Fast-growing generics maker Perrigo moves into pet care

It's a bird, it's a plane--no, it's Perrigo. Actually, the Michigan-based company, which makes generic drugs and over-the-counter products, as well as infant formula and supplements, has expanded its universe again, buying a pet care business.

Perrigo ($PRGO) announced today it will pay $285 million for privately-held Sergeant's Pet Care Products, Reuters reports. Based in Omaha, NE, Sergeant's is expected to have over $140 million in sales this year, and puts Perrigo into an industry estimated to be worth $8 billion a year. The pet products business also has had steady growth, even in tough times, as consumers lavish attention on their pets.

Perrigo is the largest manufacturer of private-label OTC drugs, producing 45 billion tablets a year. But its generic drug business is no slouch. The company is the second-fastest growing generics drugmaker, according to the report published last month in FiercePharma. Its $540 million purchase of Paddock Laboratories last year gave it 35 new generic products and was expected to contribute $200 million in sales during its first full year within the Perrigo family.

A recent piece in The Wall Street Journal ranked Perrigo CFO Judy Brown as one of the best. It pointed out she's overseen an increase in profit margin to 12.3% last year, up from 5.1% in 2007, while revenues doubled to $2.8 billion. Perrigo snapped up 8 companies over that time frame.  

It is probably a really good time for a move into pet products. Pfizer ($PFE) is spinning its animal health division off and, because of production issues, Novartis ($NVS) has been losing market share.

- here's the Reuters story

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