Pfizer exec outlines spin-off strategy

On the heels of analyst euphoria about a possible nutritionals spin-off at Pfizer ($PFE), a top executive at the drugmaker says it's weighing all of its non-core businesses for possible sale. If Pfizer chooses to break itself up, as some analysts and investors have been advocating, it would mark a departure from the build-up-via-buyout strategy of recently departed CEO Jeffrey Kindler (photo). 

"We understand what is the maximum value for those businesses, which of them actually have a higher value by being inside Pfizer," R&D chief Mikael Dolsten said at a Barclays Capital investor conference (as quoted by Reuters), "and which would...create more value for shareholders outside the company." Dolsten said Pfizer's aiming to wrap up this internal review by year's end. 

Faced with the impending loss of patent protection for its megablockbuster drug Lipitor, Pfizer has been buying smaller drug companies, building up its generics division, and snapping up other businesses, such as the Danish consumer health company Ferrosan. Recently minted CEO Ian Read (photo) is said to be considering the opposite strategy--retrenching back to its core pharma business. That's exactly what Bristol-Myers Squibb has been doing, and its Mead Johnson nutritionals spinoff was an example analysts held up earlier this week for Pfizer to imitate.

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