Deal-hungry Pfizer reportedly made a (failed) run at Teva. Who's next?

Two burning questions about Pfizer ($PFE) since the company backed off its ill-fated offer for AstraZeneca ($AZN) last May: Will the U.S.-based drug giant make another swoop at AstraZeneca? If not, who will Pfizer try to buy?

So far, no action on the former, but plenty of talk about the latter. Pfizer is said to have gone after Actavis ($ACT) before that company scored a deal for Allergan ($AGN), for instance. Now, the word is that Pfizer also made a foray toward Actavis rival Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA).

No such luck on that one, either, Bloomberg reports; Teva stiff-armed Pfizer from the get-go.  

With a $50 billion market cap, Teva is no minnow in the pharma pond, but it's a bit more than half the size of Pfizer's proposed AstraZeneca buy. Actavis stands at a $74 billion market cap as of Monday, and is estimated at a $147 billion market cap once the Allergan deal closes.

Like the pre-Allergan Actavis, Teva would give Pfizer a big boost in the generics business, which Pfizer lumps in with older brands in its "established products" unit. That's the unit analysts see as Pfizer's likely first move--or perhaps only remaining move--in its quest to slim down and refocus on pharma. The company has already sold off several businesses, including its Capsugel unit and its nutrition business. And it spun off animal health into a new company, Zoetis ($ZTS).

Pfizer CEO Ian Read

There's no question that Pfizer is looking to make a deal--or several. CEO Ian Read has said as much repeatedly. After flat sales reported for the third quarter, Read said so again. Plus, the company has a hefty stash of cash: $33 billion, by Bloomberg's count.

Analysts have tossed out a range of possibilities, including generics maker Mylan ($MYL), in third place in the business after Actavis and Teva, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX), a serial acquirer itself. There's Cubist ($CBST), the antibiotic specialist since snapped up by Merck ($MRK). And then there's fellow Big Pharma GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK)--which might allow Read to make the tax inversion deal he intended with AstraZeneca.

Or Pfizer might make another run at Actavis, either before the Allergan deal closes--as some Wall Street traders worry--or after. Actavis CEO Brent Saunders recently called the prospect of a Pfizer offer "negligible," but he did point out that Actavis shares are "for sale every day" in the public markets.

- read the Bloomberg story

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