- Reuters/ Rick Wilking
Starboard Value CEO Jeff Smith has two new targets.
Depomed, a specialty pharmaceutical company that makes painkillers and other drugs, was Smith’s first idea.
Smith said that Depomed has not scaled the business to an appropriate size, leading to a misallocation of capital on drugs that are not valuable.
By making these investments, the leverage of the company is as much as four times its income, and management has no plans to change this, according to Smith.
Depomed should be attractive to an acquirer, Smith says, as there are strong drugs in the company’s portfolio and chances to scale up.
The problem, according to Smith, is that Depomed has resisted takeover chances before, and the management team has disrespect for its shareholders.
Smith is best known for his targeting of Yahoo, leading to a recent board shakeup, and Darden Restaurants.
He also touted his investment in WestRock, a paper producer that Starboard has had an investment in for some time. Smith said, however, that he believes there is more room for improvement.
Smith believes that with WestRock currently trading around $38 a share – well below its peers – it has room to run up.
He said that business of cardboard and paper is not in secular decline, and macro risks are already priced in. Smith has a high opinion of management, and believes that it has a “strong track record.”
The market has been weighed by “over-blown” macro concerns, according to Smith, but that will pass and the stock will stage a comeback. He believes that the company could be worth $71 a share by the end of next year, or 87% higher than current levels.