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Pfizer's Kindler Doesn't Duck Tough Questions

Jeff Kindler, Pfizer Chairman and CEO
AP
Jeff Kindler, Pfizer Chairman and CEO

Pfizer held its shareholder meeting Thursday morning at the Peabody, the historic Memphis hotel where the ducks march through the lobby. I haven't seen the spectacle yet, but I'm told it's quite the scene.

But it was a smattering of individual investors who were quacking at the meeting here.

One complained about Viagra commercials airing during family-viewing hours and asked Pfizer to follow Eli Lilly's lead to not put Cialis spots on at certain times. Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler said that as a dad, he's sensitive to that, and wanted to start a dialog with the group the speaker represented.

But a couple of other folks might not have walked away from the microphone as satisfied. They wanted explanations about the declining stock and assurances it would turn around. At its current price, one PFE exec calculated the stock is paying a 6.5 percent dividend yield. And the handful of investors I talked to before the meeting said the payout is the main reason they're still holding on.

In his opening remarks, Kindler said, "Our progress is not yet reflected in the stock price." You can see his entire prepared statement here.

Reporters weren't allowed inside the meeting. I had to watch it on a closed-circuit feed in a room 20 feet away. I was alone. Meantime, in the ballroom where the meeting was taking place, most of the chairs were empty.

My producer, Ruth, who got to peek in for a minute, counted about a hundred people. Two shareholders said the place would've been jammed if it had been held in New York, where Pfizer is based.

But I did get an exclusive interview with Kindler after he met with the shareholders and his Board and you can watch it here. (See video, above.)

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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