The drug company's suffering through a world of hurt, caused in large part by increased generic competition and the conversion of allergy remedy Claritin from prescription to over-the-counter status. Its first and second quarters brought brutal results, with dramatically reduced revenues and earnings.
Back in May, Schering-Plough announced that it won't produce enough cash from operations to adequately fund its domestic working capital needs, capital expenditures, and dividend payments for the rest of this year and possibly beyond. The situation hasn't improved, and the company reiterated the same message again today.
Given that its current $0.17-per-share dividend costs the company $250 million a quarter, that's a logical place for Schering-Plough to save some dough. The board has asked CEO Fred Hassan to review the firm's finances from top to bottom, and the dividend could eventually be on the chopping block.
For now, Schering-Plough's not saying one way or the other whether a reduction or elimination of its dividend is on the horizon.
If it reduces or eliminates its dividend, that'll be just one more cause for investors to stay away. The main reasons for investors to keep their distance -- the company's weak drug pipeline and continued pain from relentless competition -- are as present as ever.