November 1, 2012 9:18 pm

Pfizer pledges a further $10bn in buybacks

Pfizer pledged a further $10bn in share buybacks, funded by continuing divestments, as it trimmed full-year guidance and unveiled third-quarter net income down 14 per cent to $3.2bn after patent losses.

The board of the US drugmaker authorised the repurchases over the “next few months” following the sale of a nutrition business to Nestlé and before the planned partial spin-off of Zoetis, its animal health division, in the first half of next year.

In results delayed from Tuesday by hurricane Sandy, the company cut its 2012 guidance, narrowing and trimming the upper end of the range of adjusted diluted earnings per share to $2.14 to $2.17, from $2.12-$2.22, on sales of $58bn to $59bn compared with $58bn-$60bn earlier.

Sales dropped 16 per cent to $14bn, reflecting the loss of exclusivity late last year of Lipitor, its cholesterol-lowering medicine, which was the world’s best-selling drug. Lipitor’s global sales were $749m in the quarter compared with $2.6bn a year earlier.

Ian Read, chairman and chief executive, said: “Our results this quarter reflect continued product losses of exclusivity, most notably Lipitor, in all major markets . . . Given our demonstrated ability to advance strategic initiatives, I believe we are well positioned to deliver attractive returns.”

He said there had been progress with the pipeline of experimental drugs, with regulatory approval of three cancer medicines and decisions pending on Tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis and Eliquis for atrial fibrillation.

In a research note, Bernstein maintained its “outperform” rating, based partly on the prospect of further divestments, citing Pfizer’s previous comment that it would see if spinning off AbbVie added value for Abbott’s.

● Watson is to rebrand next year as Actavis, the name of the Swiss-based company it bought for €4.3bn. The deal creates the world’s third-largest generic drugs business with combined pro forma sales of $8bn in 2012.

The decision reflected the difficulty of registering the name Watson in emerging markets. Paul Bisaro, chairman, said he was focusing on expansion in eastern Europe, southeast Asia and Latin America. He ruled out India and China.

Mr Bisaro said the combined company had a three-year synergy target of $300m.

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