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Pfizer : Results Hurt by Pricing Challenges

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01/29/2019 | 08:01am EDT

By Kimberly Chin

Pfizer Inc. swung to a loss in the fourth quarter as the pharmaceutical company faced pricing challenges in the U.S. and tougher generic competition.

Pfizer reported a loss of $394 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a profit of $12.27 billion, or $2.02 a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Refinitiv were expecting the company to earn 49 cents a share.

The results included a $3.1 billion impairment charge primarily related to its 2015 acquisition of Hospira Inc.

On an adjusted basis, it posted earnings of 64 cents a share, one cent above analysts' expectations.

In its essential health unit, which contains its global pharmaceutical business, sales fell by 7%, led primarily by industry-wide pricing challenges and increasing competition with generics, the company said. Pfizer said it had experienced lower sales of the pain drug Lyrica in Europe and the antidepressant Pristiq.

The company has suffered several setbacks over the years as lower-cost generic rivals are eating into its market share and some of the patents on its blockbuster drugs expired, such as the cholesterol-controlling Lipitor pills and Lyrica.

Generic-drug competition has also put pressure on sales at large rivals such as AbbVie Inc. as well. Global sales of AbbVie's Humira, which treats arthritis and other conditions, fell 17.5% due to lower-cost copies entering the European market.

This marks a test for Pfizer's new CEO, Albert Bourla, who took the helm this month following former Chief Executive Ian Read's announcement in October that he would leave the job after eight years. Mr. Bourla was previously Pfizer's chief operating officer.

Overall sales increased 2% from a year ago to $13.98 billion, above the $13.89 billion analysts had estimated.

Sales from its innovative health unit, which makes up more than half the business and includes its consumer-health brands such as Advil, Chapstick and Centrum vitamins, rose 8% in the quarter.

The company said in 2019 it expects revenue between $52 billion and $54 billion and adjusted earnings of $2.82 to $2.92. The midpoint of those ranges imply essentially flat operational performance from 2018, excluding negative currency exchange and net gains on investments.

Shares of Pfizer, which have risen 1.3% in the past 12 months, fell 2% in premarket trading Tuesday.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

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Financials ($)
Sales 2019 53 351 M
EBIT 2019 19 750 M
Net income 2019 13 323 M
Debt 2019 26 335 M
Yield 2019 3,27%
P/E ratio 2019 18,19
P/E ratio 2020 16,61
EV / Sales 2019 5,05x
EV / Sales 2020 4,96x
Capitalization 243 B
Duration : Period :
Pfizer Technical Analysis Chart | MarketScreener
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Technical analysis trends PFIZER
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 16
Average target price 45,6 $
Spread / Average Target 4,1%
EPS Revisions
Albert Bourla Director, Chief Executive & Operating Officer
Ian C. Read Executive Chairman
Frank A. D'Amelio Chief Financial Officer & EVP-Business Operations
Freda C. Lewis-Hall Chief Medical Officer & Executive Vice President
W. Don Cornwell Independent Director
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