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Pfizer Names New Chairman, Ups Dividend

Pfizer’s board of directors elected Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey B. Kindler as the company's new chairman and also increased the drug maker’s quarterly dividend.

Kindler replaces former CEO Hank McKinnell, effective Dec. 19.

Pfizer also increased the company's first quarter 2007 dividend 21% to 29 cents from 24 cents a share. The dividend is payable on March 6, 2007 to shareholders of record on Feb. 9, 2007.

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The moves come as Kindler tries to improve the sagging fortunes of the world’s No. 1 drug maker. Pfizer’s shares have been in the doldrums for several years, and the firm is in need of a new blockbuster drug. Earlier this month, Pfizer cited safety reasons in halting development of its new cholesterol drug. Pfizer's existing cholesterol drug, Lipitor, has been a one-of-a-kind money-spinner for the company.

Pfizer said it expects its "phase 3 portfolio to grow rapidly and is targeting the introduction of four new medicines a year beginning in 2011, and two new externally sourced products per year starting in 2010."

Kindler replaced McKinnell as CEO earlier this year. McKinnell will step down from the board when he leaves the company in February 2007.

The dividend hike is the company's latest move to please investors. Pfizer reiterated that it will complete the purchase of $7 billion in common stock by the end of 2006 and is "targeting" a $10-billion share buyback next year.

"Our decision to name Jeff chairman reflects the board's confidence in his strong leadership and vision for the company as the pharmaceutical industry undergoes unprecedented change," said Lead Independent Director Stanley O. Ikenberry. "Jeff is bringing important new perspectives to all aspects of the company's operations and strategies. He is moving quickly to make Pfizer more agile and responsive to its customers, including naming a new management team, engaging and energizing our colleagues, reducing layers and speeding decision-making across the company."

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