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Pfizer May Cut Back to Core

by Lisa M. Jarvis
March 21, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 12

After a meeting with Pfizer’s CEO, Ian Read, Bernstein Research stock analyst Tim Anderson put out a note to investors suggesting the big pharma firm is poised to spin off or sell up to 40% of its assets in order to focus on prescription medicines. “If we hadn’t been there ourselves to hear it firsthand we would not have believed it, but it seems from our recent meeting with CEO Ian Read that Pfizer might be destined for a significant shake-up in the form of shrinking its behemoth ~$67 billion-per-year revenue base,” Anderson wrote. The analyst said candidates for divestment include nutritionals, consumer health, animal health, capsule manufacturing, and established products, which include generics and biosimilar products. The move would be an about-face for Pfizer. Like many of its competitors, Pfizer has in recent years made a series of acquisitions to diversify beyond prescription drugs to offset patent losses. Although resizing the business and focusing on R&D are not necessarily bad moves, Anderson says, he wonders whether they make sense given the many setbacks Pfizer’s pipeline has undergone in recent years. Pfizer says it plans this year to complete a review of its business portfolio “to determine the optimal mix of business to appropriately fund and manage,” so as to achieve consistent growth.


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