When Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) releases earnings on the other side of the sunrise, we'll get a last look at the company pre-Wyeth. Here's what you can expect from the pharmaceutical giant.

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? By more than a 3-to-1 margin, buy recommendations outnumber holds, 14 to four.
  • Revenue. Analysts are looking for $11.4 billion in revenue, down 6% from the year-ago quarter.
  • Earnings. The bottom line looks much worse, with earnings per share (after all those pesky adjustments) expected to fall from $0.62 last year to just $0.48 this year.

What management says:
With Lipitor's patent expiration hanging over Pfizer's head, CEO Jeff Kindler has vowed to make sure that no single drug makes up more than 10% of Pfizer's revenue. Adding Wyeth's $22 billion in revenue to Pfizer's $46 billion seems to accomplish that, if only by raising the denominator portion of that fraction. But large acquisitions haven't worked out so well for health-care companies in the past. Pfizer might have been able to accomplish more with less cash if it had piecemealed $22 billion in revenue together from a bunch of smaller acquisitions, as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) have done, but I guess management didn't have the patience for it.

What management does:
Operating margins have been inching upward over the past few quarters, as Pfizer slims down and becomes more efficient. Nice! Net margins, on the other hand, haven't been so lucky, being dragged down by restructuring charges, lower net interest income, and $2.3 billion in charges to pay the government for not playing by the rules.

Margins

3/08

6/08

9/08

12/08

3/09

6/09

Gross

83.7%

83.7%

83.5%

85.1%

85.9%

86.3%

Operating

29.3%

31.1%

31.5%

34.8%

35.8%

36.7%

Net

15.8%

18.5%

21.6%

16.8%

17.0%

16.3%

FCF/Revenue

27.9%

30.2%

28.8%

34.2%

35.2%

35.2%

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

Growth (YOY)

3/30/08

6/29/08

9/28/08

12/31/08

3/29/09

6/28/09

Revenue

(2.7%)

0.8%

1.4%

(0.3%)

(1.0%)

(5.5%)

All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

Plagued with generic competition, both directly and indirectly, Pfizer has had a difficult time boosting revenue. The big question: Will anyone notice once it adds Wyeth, and year-over-year comparisons become more difficult to make?

One Fool says:
Management says things are different this time -- that it'll be able to integrate Wyeth without all the hiccups it saw with the integration of Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia earlier this decade.

I say, "Prove it."

Pfizer's stock is poised for growth, if it can make the integration work better than investors' expectations. Merck (NYSE:MRK) is in the same position with its acquisition of Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP). But I'm content to sit on the sidelines and risk missing the growth. Because sometimes, history does repeat itself.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.