Investors Are Eating Pfizer's Lunch


Reporters could only listen to Pfizer's hastily-organized "Investor Luncheon," so I can't tell you how many people showed up or what the room looked like.

But Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler drew a pretty good picture at the start of his opening remarks. "The last time I was sitting at a table like this, in a room like this was my Bar Mitzvah," he said. "And on that occasion people were handing me envelopes with money inside them. And on this occasion, that's not quite what's happening."

Kindler's comment probably means he and his leadership team were sitting at a head table, maybe on a dais, and everyone else was sitting at round tables, presumably without the tacky centerpieces and table numbers sticking up. I didn't hear a band either (back in the day we had bands, not DJs at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs). And certainly, no one was dancing the hora.

I know it was put together pretty last-minute because the head of investor relations opened the meeting by saying, "Thanks for joining us on short notice." Also, the evite I received to listen to the presentation is timestamped at 11:39 a.m. ET today. Unless there's breaking news, email blasts to the news media about investor events usually arrive in the inbox days or weeks in advance.

After a 10 percent hammering of PFE shares yesterday, they've only inched back up so far today. In fact, they weakened after the luncheon ended. I suspect the event was put together to try to assuage investor fears about the Wyeth deal and their anger, as one analyst put it, over the dividend being cut in half. It was about a one-hour, 15-minute meeting. Top level management made brief presentations, followed by a rather lengthy q and a period. The bulk of the time was spent discussing the nitty-gritty details about the financing.

But Kindler once again tried to drive home the strategic rationale. "This is not a case of simply taking one, big monolithic company...and then putting another one on top of that," he said. "We will be the leader in just about every single market in which we compete."

Investors, it seems, still aren't convinced.

Questions? Comments?