Pfizer (PFE) is in a period of transition right now in an effort to reposition itself as the leader in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Its balance sheet and value in the market is less than stellar so it is an ideal time for investors to consider Pfizer for long-term investment opportunities. Pfizer is divesting its non-essential models in order to refocus on its core functions regarding high margin pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The transition period is needed due to Lipitor's decline in sales numbers after the patents expired in 2011. Pfizer has a large pipeline of opportunities and positive cash flow available to buy back shares or focus on effective acquisitions to help increase its success in gaining more market share in the industry.
This is the optimal time to buy shares in Pfizer as the stock price has been trending upwards recently. With the transition underway, if it's successful, this may be the lowest stock price available for investors interested in Pfizer. The price has currently been around $22, the 52 week range has been from $16 to $23. This is the lowest price available among the major pharmaceutical brands like Merck (MRK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY), and Abbott (ABT).
The 50 day and 200 day moving average are right around the current stock price at over $22 and over $21, respectively. The beta is less than one while net and operating margin are adequate at over 14% and over 29%, respectively, even though they have decreased since 2011. The price-to-earnings ratio continues to improve and is currently below the industry average of less than 13. Pfizer's growth and return on equity is also below the industry average but these figures can change in light of a number of factors on the horizon.
Sales and revenues have declined in the last quarter due to the dip in Lipitor sales. The upside is that international sales increased by one percent from last year and total revenue from international markets increased from 57% last year to 61%. Pfizer was also able to reduce the cost of sales by 19% this year. Pfizer's willingness to work with other competitors or acquire smaller entities in order to achieve success in making new pharmaceuticals with wide appeal is paramount for its success.
Pfizer sold its nutrition business to Nestle (NSRGY.PK) for over $11 billion and rumors suggest it will be selling its animal health business in 2012 as well. These efforts all made to offset the competition from generic brands of the once popular Lipitor. Focusing on emerging markets while cutting costs and focusing its efforts on high margin products for the largest areas of need will help regain its value in the markets.
Pfizer has experienced major success before with major products like Celebrex, Viagra and Lipitor. It also sells other products like vaccines, Advil, anti-biotics and Neosporin. Pfizer is currently awaiting the approval of three new drugs. Eliquis was developed with Bristol-MeyersSquibb for blood clots in stroke patients, Bosutinib is for certain leukemia patients and tofacitinib is a possible alternative treatment mainly for rheumatoid arthritis. Pfizer currently has 26 products in phase I, 35 in phase II and 18 drugs in Phase III trials. Analysts project that tofacitinib could create between $1.5 billion to $3 billion in revenue annually.
The industry is transitioning towards targeted pharmaceuticals for specific types of cancer and other unique ailments. Some of these provide an exceptionally large market for the manufacturer that can provide a safe and effective drug to treat or cure the ailment. Pfizer is working on a few different products for Alzheimer's that will be ready for trials later this year. There are 5 million people in the U.S and 26 million people on the planet that could be potential customers for these new drugs. Pfizer is also working on a new drug that shows promise for treating lung cancer. Pfizer will improve its position among competitors by focusing more attention on these types of drugs for America and emerging markets.
Focusing on cancer treatments and new drugs will put Pfizer at the forefront of the industry as it increases its productivity in getting products to the trial phase. Targeting specific types of cancer and other ailments will also help lower production costs while improving margins and earnings as well. Working with major competitors in order to achieve these goals is becoming the industry standard. It is more practical for these organizations to be a part of the solution opposed to trying to be the sole proprietor of the latest wonder drug. Increasing its ability to get new drugs to trial phase quicker and more often will be the catalyst to drive Pfizer back towards prosperity.
Pfizer can be a leaner, more streamlined organization by working with competitors, looking for acquisitions that can drive growth and producing revenue from emerging markets while cutting production and operational costs. The days of Pfizer dominating the industry with one or two products has passed; the key to its success now is to have a stake and influence in a variety of treatments that are specifically targeted for certain high margin ailments or segments of the market.
Pfizer is not the leader in the industry it used to be. However, its experience, willingness to revamp its business model, and low stock price make it the ideal candidate for investors that are looking towards long-term projections. According to its balance sheet, Pfizer is behind its competitors in the industry in almost every respect. It does have the market capital and available cash flow that indicate it is capable of sustaining through this transition while trying to get a variety of new drugs to pass trials and hit the market.
The latest product for arthritis, tofacitinib, will most likely get resistance from the FDA for safety concerns but this is only one of many drugs in the making as Pfizer improves its pharmaceutical manufacturing process in order to compete in the high margin, high-demand market of sophisticated drugs and treatments.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.