Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. might grow, break up or some combination of both.
CEO Ian Read said Tuesday that Pfizer will keep looking for companies to buy and is taking the next steps to see whether its pieces are worth more than the sum of its parts.
Pfizer has publicly said that it tried to buy AstraZeneca in 2014 and reportedly inquired about buying Actavis and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
“Rumors are rumors, and we don’t comment on rumors,” Read said when the Teva report was raised by an analyst on a conference call Tuesday.
The AstraZeneca offer reached $120 billion. “We look at all of our opportunities,” Read said. “I don’t feel we need to do a large deal.”
Employees might be encouraged by CFO Frank D’Amelio’s comment on the call that he did not see another $5.5 billion in costs that could be taken out of the business, as Pfizer did from 2010 to 2013.
Still, Pfizer’s horizon has plenty of clouds as it tries to keep investors happy with its plans and management. (Read did take a pay cut for the previous year, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, dropping from more than $25 million in total compensation in 2011 and 2012 to $18.95 million in 2013.)
Pfizer blamed fourth-quarter and full-year declines in revenue and profit on some one-time events. But like other U.S.-based drug companies, Pfizer said the recurring problem of generic competition was coupled with changes in currency-exchange rates.
The rise of the U.S. dollar versus foreign currencies makes U.S. products more expensive, though companies operating overseas can save on costs incurred in those places. D’Amelio estimated the currency hit to projected 2015 revenues would be $2.8 billion, based on mid-January rates.
Pfizer spun off its animal-health division in 2013 and reorganized into three divisions, for efficiency — and for assessment.
Pfizer said a goal for 2015 was “establishing the groundwork required to operationalize a potential split of the company.”
Fourth-quarter revenue declined 3 percent ($13.6 billion in 2013, to $13.1 billion), and full-year revenue dropped 4 percent ($51.6 billion to $49.6 billion). Fourth-quarter profit fell 52 percent ($2.6 billion to $1.2 billion); full-year profit fell 58 percent ($22 billion to $9.1 billion).
On Tuesday, Pfizer’s stock closed at $32.60, down 20 cents.