There are times when silence is considered golden. For Vivus (VVUS), now on its third CEO in the span of just over a month, this is not one of those times. After a prolonged proxy battle for control of the company, Tony Zook stepped up to the CEO plate at Vivus and outlined a 4 point plan. The company was challenged from weak sales of the anti-obesity drug Qsymia and investors were just getting over a literal siege of press reports that dragged the company into the mud as the proxy battle wore on.
Just a month into his tenure as CEO, Tony Zook resigned his position citing medical reasons and Seth Fischer took the reigns. The press news of this event was a surprise to the street, and since that day there has been little communication from the company about what Vivus will look like under the leadership of Fischer.
For his part, Zook had stated that the company would:
1) expand use of Qsymia through targeted patient and physician education
2) find the right partner for Qsymia
3) quickly create a pathway for approval in Europe
4) eliminate expenses that are not essential to expanding use of Qsymia
The big question now is whether or not Fischer carries the same agenda forward or is looking at creating shareholder value in other ways. Essentially investors have seen Vivus tumble 20% in the 5 days since Fischer stepped up to the CEO role.
A full 20% has eroded in a few short days and the company and CEO are virtually silent. No outline of the company direction, no information about strategy, no communication about the anti-obesity drug Qsymia, and no rousing press conference or speech to give shareholders at least some indication as to how this company will turn around.
We are just a week away from the American Academy of Family Physicians Conference in San Diego and we have silence. Vivus has a decent sized booth at this conference and over 4,000 are expected to attend. Though somewhat unconventional, this conference and the attendance of Vivus there could have been a great framework for the new CEO to outline his vision and demonstrate to the street that Vivus has a plan to face the challenges ahead and is active in the space. Arena (ARNA) partner Eisai will also have a booth. The fact that both Vivus and Arena will attend can be a boost to the sector.
The time for Fischer to say something is now. Investors in this equity have had to endure a ton of uncertainty with Vivus in 2013. A clear and concise vision is what the street wants. At this point investors are fast losing patience. Some active traders likely appreciate the uncertainty, but the equity is dropping faster than many are comfortable with.
With Vivus just above 52 week lows, now is the time where traders will want to pay close attention. There is a potential buy coming, but the risk to reward ratio is troubling. If I were considering an investment, I would wait to see the new vision of the company and see something better than flat sales of the anti-obesity drug Qsymia. The longer this silence remains the heavier the risk on the near term.
Additional disclosure: I have no position in Vivus