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Morgan Stanley downgrades Pfizer, says Mylan sale this week revealed some bad news

Key Points
  • Morgan Stanley downgraded Pfizer to equal-weight from overweight.
  • On Monday, Pfizer announced its plans to divest its off-patent drug business, Upjohn, and merge it with generic-drug maker Mylan.
  • Morgan Stanley's David Risinger said although the Upjohn merger with Mylan is a "strategically sound deal," the move "revealed earnings power that is much weaker than we realized."
Pfizer signage is displayed on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tucked behind the mega-pharmaceutical deal between Pfizer and Mylan is weakness in Pfizer's earnings, according to Morgan Stanley.

The firm downgraded Pfizer to equal-weight from overweight and slashed it price target to $40 per share from $48 per share on Tuesday.

"Pfizer announced it is exiting its Upjohn business, but the real news was weaker underlying earnings" in the businesses that remain, Morgan Stanley's David Risinger said in a note to clients.

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On Monday, Pfizer announced its plans to divest its off-patent drug business, Upjohn, and merge it with generic-drug maker Mylan alongside its second-quarter earnings.The company reported profit that beat analyst expectations, but revenue missed. Risinger said although the Upjohn merger with Mylan is a "strategically sound deal," the move "revealed earnings power that is much weaker than we realized."

Risinger said weaker earnings are driven by recent negative regulatory action, lower margins for Pfizer's Innovative business, and weaker Upjohn financials.

Morgan Stanley also lowered its 2020 revenue estimates 9% from to $48 billion $54 billion and adjusted earnings per share down 15% to $2.56 from $3.02.

Shares of Pfizer fell more than 6% on Tuesday, after falling nearly 4% on Monday.

For the second-quarter, Pfizer reported earnings per share of of 80 cents on revenue of $13.26 billion, while analysts polled by FactSet were expecting earnings per share of 75 cents on revenue of $13.4 billion.

— with reporting from CNBC's Michael Bloom