Pfizer Shareholders & Its Rodent Get a Morsel


At Pfizer's annual shareholder meeting in Atlantathis morning, investors approved a version of "Say on Pay."

Yeah, it's got a lot of cushiony language in it like "non-binding" and "advisory resolution," but CNBC's resident proxy expert, Mary Thompson, says it nonetheless amounts to a victory for shareholders. A few years ago PFE investors were outraged when the previous Chairman and CEO Hank McKinnell was sent packing with an enormous golden parachute. Shareholders also passed a measure to let an investor who has at least a 10 percent stake in the company to call for a special meeting. That's down from a 25 percent threshhold approved last year.

With PFE shares down about one-third over the past year, Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler reportedly told the crowd that he feels their pain. "We all know Pfizer's share price is not where we want it to be." I seem to recall him saying something along those lines at last year's meeting, too. The world's biggest drugmaker cut its dividend when it announced last January that it was buying Wyeth. The stock's down about 26 percent since Kindler did that deal.

Meantime, a few months ago I blogged about an in-your-face "public service announcement" regarding counterfeit drugs that Pfizer produced for the UK and was showing before movies at theaters, er, theatres. In an informal, unscientific "Pharma's Market" poll that day readers voted by a better than two-to-one margin that the spot was effective versus disgusting. And now an ad watchdog group in the UKhas weighed in saying it agrees with the majority. Despite receiving 64 complaints about the PSA, the group believes the video raises awareness more than it offends.

Drugs, rats, shareholders and CEOs all in the same blog. And I resisted all temptation to connect them.

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