ON THE SPOT
GIULIETTA TALEVI: Aspen retains taste for acquisitions despite its current debt levels
CEO Stephen Saad says it is important to note that the company has always sold its acquisitions at higher prices
Aspen’s shares have steadied since plunging as much as 50% on the release of the pharma company’s interim results two weeks ago. But the stock has a long way to climb before recouping even 2019’s losses, and is trading at less than a quarter of its all-time highs. Back then, the market embraced CEO Stephen Saad’s entrepreneurial empire building. Now the market is anxious about Aspen’s debt levels, its acquisitive business model, and its high level of working capital. Stephen Saad told Business Day … [On working capital] we were at 50% at the half, but for the full-year we expect it to be 90%-100%, so what that assumes is a contraction in working capital. The biggest component of the working capital is that we think there could be shortages of [blood thinner] heparin. We can always sell the product down if we’re wrong but if there is a shortage in the market I’d rather come back and say: we had stock to cover because the cost of being out of stock is so high. So you’ve got to balance...