On the surface, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) looks like a superstar, with revenue in the first quarter up 54%. Of course, that was almost entirely thanks to the addition of Wyeth; year-over-year revenue comparisons will be a little wacky until next year.

Not that it really matters. Pfizer didn't buy Wyeth for the top-line growth. The purchase was made to bolster earnings through cost-cutting measures. On the surface, that one looks good, too, with earnings per share up 11% to $0.60 per share after adjusting for charges from the acquisition and other items.

That's exactly what we'd like to see: cost-cutting measures more than making up for added interest costs and increased share count due to the acquisition. And it seems to have happened in the first full quarter of the year. Pretty impressive, no? Let's not get too excited just yet.

The first quarter of 2009 was a pretty dismal quarter for most companies, Pfizer included. If we go back to 2008, adjusted earnings were $0.61 per share. So the company has been essentially flat over the past two years. For this year, Pfizer is guiding for adjusted earnings per share of $2.10 to $2.20; better than last year's $2.02, but not nearly as good as 2008's $2.42.

Top-line growth from acquisitions and one-time benefits from cost cutting are nice, but Pfizer needs to get back to real growth. That can only come from launching new products and growing current offerings.

Sales of cancer drug Sutent were up 28%, but the chance of future expansion into other indications seems dismal. Pfizer's best hope for a major seller lies in the Alzheimer's arena. If phase 3 results for bapineuzumab come out positive, Pfizer and partners Elan (NYSE: ELN) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) are sure to have a multibillion-dollar drug on their hands. But as investors found out through the company's partnership with Medivation (Nasdaq: MDVN), getting a drug to work in Alzheimer's patients isn't as easy as it sounds.

Pfizer's behemoth size is helpful for cutting costs, but it makes growing quite difficult. Investors should be content with their solid 4.2% dividend, because revenue growth -- and therefore share price growth -- may be harder to come by.

Alex Dumortier thinks everyone needs to own dividend stocks.

Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Elan is a Rule Breakers selection. Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor pick and Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on its shares. 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.