Below is a round-up of their ideas:
Long Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT)
Jason Karp, the founder of Tourbillon Capital Partners, is long Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT), a leader in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a type of muscular dystrophy that affects children. Its main drug is called is called Exondys.
He noted that studies have found that it significantly improves walking distance for the children impacted by the disease. The drug also has the ability to extend the lives of children. A number of insurance companies haven’t covered it because it’s an expensive drug. Karp expects that to change. He also doesn’t expect any scrutiny over drug pricing as lower prices would materially impact the company’s ability to do R&D.
Karp, an SAC Capital alum, believes Sarepta is undervalued for an orphan biotech stock. He thinks that there’s the potential for a 70% to 200% upside for the stock in the next two years. He also views it as a likely acquisition candidate, which could get investors a 300% return.
Long Nike (NKE)
John Lykouretzos, the founder of Hoplite Capital Management, thinks Nike (NKE) is an attractive long. Sporting a pair of Nike shoes on stage, Lykouretzos noted that the global market for athletic apparel and footwear has been growing.
In particular, there’s been a lot of that growth in Asia. He views the Chinese government’s focus on health and wellness as a tailwind for the company.
Short Iron Mountain (IRM)
Ricky Sandler, the founder of Eminence Capital, is short Iron Mountain (IRM), a paper storage company that’s an “unusual” and “funny-looking” real estate investment trust (REIT). He’s concerned about investor sentiment towards the sector, pointing to the rally in REIT stocks in the S&P 1500.
“Like any good craze, people start to push the borders on definitions and things,” he said. He noted this “craze” is reflected by REITS for billboards, data centers, and even prisons.
He said that Iron Mountain “looks like” an inexpensive REIT, but it’s “cheap” for a good reason. The problem with the company is it’s in the storage business, particularly the storage of paper documents. But more and more companies are storing their documents digitally. Finance, legal, insurance, and healthcare businesses are going digital, creating a significant headwind for the company.
“Iron Mountain has a significant secular problem,” Sandler said.
He also contends that the company has a significant problem with its accounting.
Short Mallinckrodt (MNK) and Express Scripts (ESRX)
Mallinckrodt’s drug Acthar, an injectable hormone used to treat autoimmune disorders and infantile spasm, is the “epitome of excessive drug pricing,” according to Chanos. It was approved by the FDA in 1952, but it’s seen its price per vial shoot up to more than $35,000 today from just $40 in 2001. Acthar accounted for approximately 31% of Mallinckrodt’s revenues in 2016 and 94% of its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).
“This drug is the company, and it’s important to know that,” Chanos said.
What makes this interesting is Mallinckrodt’s relationship with a company called Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager (PBM). PBMs have been viewed as a primary source for drug price inflation. They make money off their rebate system, which incentivizes high drug prices. Numerous agencies are investigating ESRX’s PBM practices, including the Attorney General of New Jersey and the US Attorney’s Offices of Massachusetts, Southern New York and Rhode Island.
“As we dug deeper we found some disconcerting aspects between the two companies,” Chanos said of the two shorts.
Express Scripts has three subsidiaries: United BioSource, which runs ESRX’s patient assistance programs including for Acthar; Accredo Health an internal mail-order specialty pharmacy that sells Acthar; and CuraScript which is an exclusive distributor of Acthar.
“This is crucial,” Chanos said. “These patients assistance programs are horrible. They drive the prices for lots of services and products in healthcare area because by using so-called third parties, which may or may not be affiliated or get funding from these companies. They give the patient assistance with the co-pay and then they get bigger reimbursements from either private insurers, Medicare, or us the taxpayers.”
He added it’s in their interests to help patients buy drugs knowing they’ll get the inflated price back.
“In my view, that constitutes a really questionable practice,” Chanos said.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.