Does Steere's exit signal a new day at Pfizer?

Now that ex-chairman William Steere is bowing out of Pfizer's ($PFE) board room, the company may really be ready to turn over a new leaf. Or so say analysts and media types, who see Steere's exit as another sign that Pfizer is departing from its bigger-is-better approach.

After all, Steere's retirement notice comes just a few months after ex-CEO Jeffrey Kindler's (photo) exit. And what are both men known for at Pfizer? Steere engineered the enormous merger with Warner-Lambert in 2000, the deal that brought megablockbuster Lipitor into Pfizer's stable. And Kindler negotiated the 2009 buyout of Wyeth, a megadeal that Pfizer is still digesting.

Plus, the Steere announcement comes on the heels of new chief Ian Read's (photo) pledge to review all of Pfizer's non-core businesses. Analysts have said that Pfizer might unload up to $40 billion in diversified businesses. With Steere gone, Read may have an easier time pursuing a pare-down strategy. Then again, Steere's buddy George Lorch remains on the board as non-executive chairman, Pharmalot points out.

"It's definitely a changing of the guard," Miller Tabak & Co.'s Les Funtleyder told Bloomberg. "The acquisition strategy he pursued was very successful, but it stopped being successful. Companies need to be able to adapt, and the strategy that works in one era may not work in another."

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