It's not a new question, but it's one whose urgency is growing: How long can Pfizer pay its big dividend? It's the largest in the industry, at 6.67 percent compared with 3.37 percent pharma-wide. And it cost the drugmaker $8 billion last year--at a time when the U.S. dollar is weak and the globalized Pfizer generates proportionately less money in the States.
Those are the costs. The benefits to Pfizer? Well, it's one of the few reasons folks are holding onto their shares. It's helped provide "a floor for the stock," someone close to Pfizer's board told the Wall Street Journal--and without that floor, the board worries, the price could drop to $10 or $12 from its current price of $19.18, already a 10-year low.