Pfizer faces pressure to clinch deals as sales lag

Pfizer reported another quarter of sluggish sales, increasing pressure on the drugmaker to make a deal and replenish its pipeline. One of Ireland’s largest exporters, Pfizer employs 4,000 people in eight facilities in Cork, Dublin, and Kildare.

The New York-based company, valued at €180bn, said it still expects to make a decision on the future of its consumer health unit during the year. Investors have been anxious about getting an update on the business, which was valued at $20bn (€16.5bn). Its fate has been unclear since March when two potential buyers pulled out of the bidding process. Pfizer began reviewing the business, whose products include Advil and heartburn reliever Nexium, in October.

Revenue overall rose just 1% to $12.9bn last quarter, lower than the $13.1bn projected by analysts, and it didn’t raise its outlook for the year. The shares fell 1% in New York, paring gains to 12.5% in the past year. The quarter was dragged down by a 5% revenue fall in its division of older drugs, partly due to a 12% drop in sterile injectable drugs sales.

The innovative health segment, which includes the newest drugs, was the bright spot, with 6% sales growth from a year earlier. Blood thinner Eliquis sales came in higher than expected, while its Prevnar vaccine franchise was in line with estimates after a 22% jump in sales outside the US. Revenue from the consumer unit under review, which is part of the innovative segment, gained 7%. Pfizer has faced pressure from investors to make deals and expand its pipeline of research. A proposed $160bn merger with Allergan was scrapped after the Obama administration cracked down on so-called inversion deals. Pfizer also attempted a $120bn deal with drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Bloomberg. Additional reporting Irish Examiner.

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