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The company announced today that it found a buyer for its Capsugel unit, which helps drug companies develop capsules and other delivery forms of their drugs. The sale will bring in a cool $2.4 billion from private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts taking over Capsugel.
Pfizer's primary plan is to use the proceeds to increase its share repurchases beyond the $5 billion that it previously committed to. Pfizer's shares are cheap -- relative to price or earnings -- but that's because there's little growth priced in given the upcoming loss of Lipitor. It seems like Pfizer should be able to buy something that could deliver a better earnings boost than just lowering the share count.
With $2.4 billion, Pfizer could buy Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN ) for a 30% premium and gain the rights to an oncology drug that's already under review at the Food and Drug Administration. Or it could take on a little more risk and buy Exelixis (Nasdaq: EXEL ) , which hasn't read out its phase 3 cancer drug trial, and still have a few hundred million left over to take a gamble on a company the size of Delcath Systems (Nasdaq: DCTH ) or Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: KERX ) .
It remains to be seen whether the sale of Capsugel is a sign that Pfizer will undergo a major breakup. The company had previously announced that it was looking for a buyer, so the sale wasn't a huge shock. Until Pfizer completes its business review, we won't know whether other units will be spun out or sold.
Investors hoping that a breakup will happen can take solace in the fact that Pfizer found a buyer for Capsugel at an acceptable price. Pfizer may have been using Capsugel to test the waters, which it's clearly found warm enough. In fact, investors are already having a breakup pool party.
It's time to jump off the diving board, Pfizer.
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