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Pfizer’s disappointing performance could increase pressure to split the company

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The Numbers: Pfizer missed analyst profit and sales estimates, reporting earnings of $2.75 billion on revenue of $13.5 billion. Shares of the world’s biggest drugmaker were down about 3% in morning trading.

What’s Interesting: Although Pfizer lost its exclusive rights to its blockbuster cholesterol-reducing drug Lipitor in 2011, investors still felt positive about Pfizer. New products and optimism for experimental drugs had caused Pfizer shares to rise more than 20% so far this year. But Pfizer suggested those hopes were misplaced and the company cut its earnings forecast for the rest of the year. Even emerging markets, which had been hot for Pfizer and other drugmakers, rose only by 5% in the first quarter, compared to 17% growth in the previous quarter.

The Takeaway: The disappointing earnings results could put more pressure on Pfizer to break up to increase the value of its stock. Last year, Pfizer got rid of its animal health and infant nutrition businesses, making the company more of a pure play in the pharmaceutical business. Separating into a generics unit and brand-name drug business could make Pfizer even more focused. In January, Pfizer CEO Ian Read said the company is considering a breakup but to not expect a decision any time soon. If Pfizer shares keep lagging, he may have to speed up his timetable.

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