GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) reported fourth-quarter earnings results Wednesday, along with guidance for 2020 that was less than encouraging. But investors' disappointment with outlook may have been tempered somewhat by the accompanying news about the company's plan to completely spin off its consumer healthcare assets.

Earnings disappointment

During the last three months of 2019, GlaxoSmithKline earned an adjusted $0.33 per share which was $0.27 a share less than analysts' consensus estimate.

Blister pack full of pills shaped like dollar signs.

Image source: Getty Images.

For the year, sales of the company's next-generation shingles vaccine more than doubled to $2.34 billion, but investors should probably brace themselves for stagnating sales on that front once most older adults have received the vaccine. While vaccine sales exploded in 2019, the company's HIV segment grew by just 1% on a constant-currency basis.

More joint venture details

Last August, GlaxoSmithKline completed a transaction with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) that combined their consumer healthcare segments into a gigantic joint venture. At the time, the British pharma giant announced an intention to demerge the joint venture from the company within three years.

On Wednesday, GlaxoSmithKline provided a few more details concerning its upcoming split into two companies. In addition to consumer health products, Glaxo is also mulling the divestment of its prescription dermatology assets. In 2019, the established pharmaceuticals segment recorded $580 million in prescription dermatology sales, which worked out to around 1% of total revenue reported by the company.

One-time costs to prepare its consumer healthcare segment for separation are expected to reach around $800 million. By 2022, the company expects to recoup those costs and more each year in the form of annual savings associated with the spinoff.