Pfizer wants deals that can pad sales 'now or soon.' And it's not waiting for tax reform

Pfizer
Pfizer is looking for buys that can start padding its sales haul right away, company CFO Frank D'Amelio said Tuesday.

SAN FRANCISCO—If you’ve been watching Pfizer’s dealmaking over the past few years, you may have noticed a trend: It likes buys that bring in new sales, and quickly. According to company execs, that's a trend they intend to continue.

Pfizer’s “bias” has been toward buys that can provide revenue growth “now or soon,” CFO Frank D’Amelio said during a Tuesday fireside chat at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Its $16 billion Hospira buy was “now.” Its $14 billion Medivation deal was “now.” And Anacor, which Pfizer nabbed for $5 billion in June—just six months or so before the FDA approved blockbuster hopeful Eucrisa—“was soon,” he pointed out.

The company has done some earlier-stage deals, D’Amelio noted, but if pressed to answer for the company’s future moves—as interviewer and J.P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott made sure he was—D'Amelio would say that bias is still intact.

It’s no surprise that marketed or near-to-market products have been Pfizer’s focus since its mammoth deal for self-proclaimed “growth pharma” Allergan fell through last April. Products including oncology hotshot Ibrance and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13 have been red hot, but some analysts question how much growth those products have left after penetrating their markets.

Meanwhile, pharma-watchers eager to see M&A pick up the pace have their eyes on Pfizer, which stands to come up big if widely expected tax reform makes it cheaper for the company to access its overseas coffers.

That scenario would give the pharma giant “huge capital firepower,” D’Amelio admitted.

But that doesn’t mean the company will press pause now, in anticipation of any future access to that cash. “If we see a deal we think works today with the cards we’ve been dealt, I don’t know why would we would wait,” he said.