Pfizer hopes spinoffs improve its pharma focus
Can they also help boost the company's dormant stock?
By Barry Cohen, Stock Traders Daily
Pfizer (PFE) shareholders cannot be pleased with the status quo -- the stock price of the world's largest pharmaceutical company is just about where it was six years ago. Even when considering today's low-interest environment and the company's healthy dividend, currently yielding more than 3.5%, investors could not happy with the stagnant share price.
And Pfizer appears to have gotten the message. It may have taken some time, but the pharma giant has evidently concluded that its acquisition spree of earlier years has done nothing to increase shareholder value. Better yet, it's doing something about it.
Pfizer plans to spin off its animal health unit into a separate company called Zoetis. It is selling a 20% stake in Zoetis through an IPO and appears open to peddling the remainder of the new company sometime later.
Earlier this year, Pfizer agreed to sell its infant nutrition group for nearly $12 billion to Nestle SA (NSRGY), which beat out rivals including Danone SA (DANOY). The deal is expected to close during the first half of 2013.
Investors are hoping that shedding the animal health and infant nutrition unit will enable Pfizer to focus its energies on the pharmaceutical business and start churning out the blockbuster drugs that once made the company a darling of Wall Street.
Both Pfizer and investors would love to see its pipeline of potential drugs produce another Lipitor, a cholesterol medication the company acquired through the 2000 merger with Warner-Lambert. Lipitor, which clocked in approximately $13 billion in sales at its peak, lost patent protection in the U.S. late last year, opening the door to cheap generic competition. Pfizer knew it would lose a substantial amount of Lipitor sales to copycat drugs but, as the company acknowledged in reporting its third-quarter results last week, generic erosion of Lipitor was a bit faster than expected.
The company pointed to this as one of the reasons that third-quarter profit fell 14%. Pfizer's adjusted earnings, excluding one-time items, met analysts' expectations, but revenue fell short. The company also tightened its forecast range for full-year 2012 sales and adjusted earnings.
One drug that Pfizer has high hopes for is Eliquis, the approved trade name for apixaban in Europe and the proposed trade name in the U.S. In 2007, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) entered into a worldwide collaboration to develop and commercialize Eliquis, an investigational oral anticoagulant discovered by Bristol.
The companies are working to get the drug approved to prevent stroke or systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). One of the most serious medical concerns for individuals with atrial fibrillation is the increased risk of stroke, which is five times higher in people with atrial fibrillation than those without. In fact, 15% of all strokes are attributable to atrial fibrillation in the U.S.
The question remains: How to trade Pfizer? Our real time trading report can help investors figure out exactly how to trade this stock. Our real time trading reports also provide more information about stocks in this space, and help investors identify opportunities before they occur.
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