Pfizer’s chief financial officer says the drugmaker will focus on dividends and stock purchases

Pharmaceutical major Pfizer has been on a hot streak of mergers and acquisitions over the past two years, digging into its own Covid-19 vaccine and therapeutic windfall to go on an expensive buying spree.

The CEO and CFO of the company indicated in an interview that that era is coming to an end Barron Tuesday. Now is the time to buy back shares and increase profits.

“What we think is going to happen now that we start to cash in on the investments we’ve made in business development transactions,” said David Denton, Pfizer’s chief financial officer. Barronshortly after the company reported first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations.

“We’re going to be able to balance it more in increasing our earnings, maybe faster than we’ve had in the past,” Denton said. Shareholders prefer some level of share buyback, and we’ll be able to do that as well.

Pfizer stock is down about 24% so far this year and 21% over the past 12 months. The company has signed a number of multi-billion-dollar deals over the past year, including the $41.2 billion acquisition of biotechnology company Seagen (SGEN), announced in March, which has not yet closed.

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Before that came the $4.8 billion acquisition of Global Blood Therapeutics and the $11.1 billion acquisition of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, both of which closed late last year.

Pfizer’s decision to spend its Covid-19 vaccine cash on mergers and acquisitions stands somewhat in contrast to peer Moderna (MRNA), which spent $3.3 billion on stock buybacks in 2022. Pfizer has also bought back stock, though not since March. 2022, when it spent $2 billion on buybacks.

The company has faced some pressure from investors to buy back shares, such as Barron reported in feb. Denton said Tuesday that the company will need to pay down some debt first, but that it plans to move toward more buybacks soon.

“We didn’t just invest in Seagen

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But other business development deals drive growth,” Denton says. “And ultimately, that growth leads to better performance from an operating income perspective and from a cash flow perspective.”

Pfizer paid a cash dividend of $1.60 per share in 2022, and 41 cents per share in the first quarter of 2023. The dividend yield is 4.2%, according to FactSet.

Pfizer has set a goal of securing $25 billion in new annual revenue through business development deals by 2030. The company is expected to hit the patent slope at the end of the decade in which the company will generate $17 billion in annual revenue.

The deals completed so far, Denton says, clear the company most of the way toward its $25 billion goal.

“We’re probably north of $20 billion,” he says. “So we have a little bit of work to do. But it needs to be done by 2030.”

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Revenue from Nurtec ODT, a drug secured through the Biohaven deal, fell short of expectations in the first quarter. Analysts had expected sales of $208 million for the period. Instead, they came in at $167 million. said Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer Barron On Tuesday, analysts misunderstood the seasonality of Nurtec’s revenue, which drops early in the year as patients pay rebates. The drug company is forced to spend more on the rebate program, which helps cover out-of-pocket expenses.

“If you go back and really look at the non-COVID business, we had a 5% growth rate,” Denton said. “While some products may have done a little bit better, some products did a little bit worse, and the net effect of that is…we’re off to a really good start to the year.”

Pfizer shares were down 1.1% Tuesday afternoon, after rising 1% earlier in the day.

Write to Josh Nathan Kazis at

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