Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) has made another misstep—and this time it has to do with executive compensation, according to Wells Fargo.
On Monday, Valeant disclosed additional bonuses for some of its executives in a regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That included several executives who held managerial positions when Valeant faced regulatory scrutiny and public backlash, such as Chief Financial Officer Robert Rosiello, and Executive Vice Presidents Ari Kellen and Ari Whitaker. Each of the three received a $1 million cash bonus for staying with Valeant, and equity awards wort as much as $3.8 million on top of their existing bonuses and salaries.
To Wells Fargo analysts however, the bonuses seem insensitive in light of the company’s recent history with drug price gouging allegations. Enough so that the analysts led by Davis Maris cut their valuation range for Valeant from $30 to $31 down to $27 to $31, saying the compensation increases will likely worsen the company’s already decaying public image and sputtering sales.
“It is not hard to see the criticism that the retention bonuses are being paid with money Valeant gained through excessive price increases and being paid to executives who in part helped oversee these pricing programs,” the team of analysts wrote. “We are surprised by these bonuses as we believe this opens the company up to criticism of being brazen in the face of public and government scrutiny for pricing practices.”
Wells Fargo also noted that while Valeant reaffirmed first quarter earnings per share guidance, but that full year guidance was conspicuously absent.
Wells Fargo also revealed that it had submitted request for some Valeant’s documents under the Freedom of Information Act, which will become public May 24.
Valeant is also reportedly considering selling its dermatology business, Obagi Medical Products, and Provenge, its prostate cancer business, in order to shed some of its $30 billion debt, Bloomberg reported.