It's too late. If you wanted to buy into what has been hyped as the biggest IPO since Facebook, but didn't, you missed your chance. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) sold more than 86 million shares Thursday night in the initial public offering for its animal health business now known as Zoetis (NYSE:ZTS).
The IPO price for Zoetis was $26 per share. And plenty of people wanted a stake. Reuters reported that the offering was between 10 and 20 times oversubscribed. Can you still make money from Zoetis even if you missed the IPO action? I think so. Here are three ways to do it.
1. Wait then buy
Why not go ahead and buy Zoetis immediately? For one thing, market history is fraught with the dangers of chasing a stock right after its IPO. Many remember oh-too-vividly the thrill of buying Facebook on the day of its IPO, then watching the stock plummet over the next few days.
Of course, that's only one example from a completely different industry. And things aren't always that bad. However, even a health care spin-off, AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), showed that it can be better to wait for at least a few days before buying. Sure, you would have been up at the close if you bought AbbVie shares immediately after its IPO. However, the stock drifted lower over the next few days before ultimately coming back.
The first day after an IPO can be giddy and dizzying but only sometimes ho-hum. Wait for the likely giddiness and dizziness to pass. Once the dust settles, you can look at buying the stock if the business prospects and share price are attractive. In the case of Zoetis, I agree with my Foolish colleague Sean Williams that the business and offering price look pretty good.
2. Buy Pfizer instead
Another way to make money off the Zoetis IPO is to buy Pfizer shares. Think about this: Pfizer just raised over $2 billion in cash in one day. And it still owns 83% of Zoetis. Both present good news for Pfizer shareholders.
Regarding the cash hauled in, Pfizer has a couple of major options. It can benefit shareholders in the form of dividends or share buybacks. Share buybacks is the approach that Pfizer CEO Ian Read has seemed to lean toward. The alternative is to invest the money either in the company's own research and development or by making a strategic acquisition.
Zoetis has good growth prospects. By retaining a large stake, Pfizer gets to benefit from that growth while simultaneously focusing exclusively on its core businesses. On the other hand, the company also could choose to sell more of its shares in Zoetis down the road. Either way, Pfizer investors should win.
3. Wait then buy someone else
Suppose that both Pfizer and Zoetis shares take off during 2013 as a result of the spin-off. What do you think will go through the minds of the execs at Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), both of which own animal health divisions? "Me too" is one of the most common strategies in the business world.
Merck and Sanofi have already shown their interest in parting ways with their animal health units. The two companies attempted to form a joint venture in 2010. However, regulators in Europe ultimately threw cold water on the deal.
Our third way for making money off the Zoetis IPO, therefore, is to wait for one of these other companies to move forward with their own animal health IPO after seeing the success of Pfizer's move. You then jump on board rather than missing out as you probably did with Zoetis. This one is certainly a longer-term strategy. It's also an iffy one, since it depends on another company taking action. But, hey, it could work -- and you'd owe a debt of gratitude to Pfizer and Zoetis.
These alternatives are in the order that I would recommend to individual investors. As I mentioned earlier, I like Zoetis. The company stands to benefit from increased spending on pets and from higher consumption of beef in emerging economies. You might have missed the IPO, but you don't have to miss out on good prospects for steady growth.