Bausch + Lomb has a really interesting history and is obviously a big name in eye health care, but is it a worthwhile investment?
Oct. 13, 2022
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Bausch + Lomb Corp. (NYSE: BLCO) was founded in 1853 by John Bausch and Henry Lomb, both German immigrants. They established a small workshop that produced monocles in Rochester, New York, specializing in vulcanite rubber eyeglass frames. During the civil war, blockades led to sharp increases in the price of gold and European horn, leading Bausch + Lomb spectacles to explode in popularity.
The company went on to produce glass lenses for a number of devices including microscopes and binoculars, as well as projectors, and camera lenses. It then partnered with Zeiss in Germany to produce eyeglass lenses. Beginning in 1914, Bosch + Lomb won a lucrative contract with the United States government to produce lenses for military equipment and eyeglasses for personnel. By 1930, military products represented 70% of total production. Bosch and Lomb founded Ray-Bans in 1936 for pilots.
It was the first company to bring hydrogel contact lenses to the market in 1971. In the 1980s the company began to restructure and move away from eyeglasses. This saw its eyewear division, including Ray-Ban, be sold to Luxottica Group for US$640 million
Bausch + Lomb was a public company listed on the NYSE, until it was acquired by private equity firm Warburg Pincus in 2007. In May 2013, it was announced that Canadian-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals would acquire Bausch + Lomb from Warburg Pincus for $8.57 billion in cash. The deal, which was approved by shareholders, included $4.2 billion earmarked to pay down Bausch + Lomb debt and closed on August 5, 2013.
On May 6, 2022, Bausch + Lomb (eye care) and Bausch Health (used to be called Valeant but the name was dropped after a disastrous expansion plan in 2018) were separated and Bausch + Lomb (eye care) IPO’d. This was done to help manage massive amounts of debt and allow the two companies to be measured on their own. Bausch Health did well throughout the pandemic while eye care struggled
And, almost exactly a year after announcing the eye care spinout, Bausch Health outlined plans for another. Its $300 million aesthetics devices division, Solta Medical, would separately head to the Nasdaq to help further chip away at the company’s past debts and $350 million owed to holders of outstanding senior notes.
But what about its business now?