I'm in the press room at the midtown Manhattan hotel where Pfizer is holding its analyst meeting. There's just over half a dozen reporters here and we're nearly outnumbered by PR folks.
As one of them remarked, the press turnout for an event like this just isn't what it used to be. A lot of reporters, investors and analysts log onto the web cast instead. I'm told around 250 analysts and investors are here.
So far, Wall Street doesn't seem impressed by the press release or the presentation. The beaten-down stock is barely budging in early trading.
Dr. Martin Mackay (pronounced muh-kai), Pfizer's new head of research and development, made perhaps the most candid remark of the morning. In his prepared opening speech he said the situation at Pfizer represents "the R and D challenge of a lifetime."
Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler spoke at length about the looming patent expiration for Lipitor. He acknowledged the event "is of a different magnitude" and that Pfizer's revenue and earnings will be "meaningfully impacted" by it. But he reiterated the company will right-size itself before, during and after Lipitor goes generic.
He said after that happens, Pfizer will "be a strong, profitable, growing company." Kindler repeated the line for emphasis.
To try to fill the $13-billion hole that'll be left by Lipitor, Pfizer says it will file for approval of 15-20 products between 2010 and 2012 -- around the time the cholesterol fighter goes off patent. And it hopes to have 24-28 drugs in late-stage development by the end of next year -- up from 16 today.
The cash-rich Pfizer says it will continue to look for other promising products to buy, in-license or partner on to tuck into its pipeline. But for now at least, Kindler said he doesn't see a potential mega-merger that makes sense. "There is no single magic bullet," he said. Nonetheless, Kindler added, "We remain open to everything."
Check out Maria Bartiromo's exclusive interview with Kindler today on "Closing Bell" at 3pm and 4 pm ET.
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