What can we say about those who revise their medium-term profitability targets downwards? Sanofi did just that last Friday, citing the need to increase R&D investment to ensure long-term value creation.

The editors of MarketScreener will have nothing to say about such a statement. For too long, the French pharmaceutical group has been characterized by a singular lack of ambition in innovation, if not by a sometimes too pronounced docility to the demands of its shareholders.

The quarterly results published on Friday show nothing other than the usual stability to which Sanofi has become accustomed. The third quarter showed a modest slowdown, but for the first nine months of the year, sales and operating profit were stable.

Dividend payouts increased significantly - proof that Sanofi is not radically changing its style either! - and cash generation would have been on a par without the negative impact of working capital.

If net debt has risen, it is primarily due to the promising acquisition of Provention earlier this year. If developed to its full potential, it could significantly revitalize Sanofi's diabetes franchise, notwithstanding competition from Ozempic.

Is the market having a hard time digesting Sanofi's decision to concentrate on biopharmaceuticals - i.e., to focus heavily on R&D? The strategy is indeed riskier than the vertical and horizontal integrations favored in the past, but also more profitable if things work out.

In this game, the majors have a decisive advantage, as their considerable scale enables them to largely dilute the risk by integrating several research programs for each category within their well-supplied and well-diversified pipelines.

The trend is similar to that observed among the other pharmaceutical majors. Novartis, for example, recently completed the separation of its Sandoz generics division. Sanofi is not alone here.

It's true that the market may have been slightly dampened by Pfizer's recent setbacks. Covid episode aside, the American giant, a pioneer of this R&D concentration strategy, has had a rather disappointing stock market performance since its transformation.

In short, major projects are underway at Sanofi. The appointment of Frédéric Oudéa as Chairman of the Board of Directors is a clear sign of this.

The first big project: the spin-off of the consumer products division - maker of the blockbuster Doliprane, among others - should follow within a year. The operation will be far more strategic than the Europapi demerger.

For the rest, the course remains unchanged. Sanofi is reorienting itself towards specialty treatments for oncology and rare diseases, far from the mass-market products that made it such a success in the early days.

Some analysts also point to the Group's critical dependence on the blockbuster Dupixent, which will account for nearly a quarter of consolidated sales this year. For what it's worth, this is nothing new for Sanofi, once hyper-exposed to Lantus.

For the past fifteen years, the group's shares have traded in a perfectly circumscribed range between ten and twenty times earnings. Now, it's slowly falling back towards this floor, which fans of the genre will no doubt appreciate.