Buyers Buzz Around Pfizer's Consumer Brands Honeypot

30 March 2006

$14 billion (€11.59bn; £8.0bn) is little more than petty cash to New York-headquartered pharma giant Pfizer - at least when viewed alongside its current market capitalization of $188bn.

Fourteen million greenbacks is the price tag slapped by Pfizer on its ten-strong consumer brands portfolio which comprises - among others - such household elixirs as Benadryl, Listerine, Rolaids, Sudafed and Zantac.

It's not that these brands aren't doing for Pfizer's bottom line what its flagship prescription drug does for flagging male bodyparts. Quite the reverse: it's all down to a quirk in stock market valuation criteria whereby pharma firms trade at valuations some 25% below consumer-products companies.

And since Pfizer in toto is regarded as a drug company, it currently suffers the pain of 7.4% of its assets being undervalued to the tune of 25%.

In February the company announced its intention to collect the difference in these valuations, either by spinning-off the consumer brands as a separate entity to existing shareholders - or selling the range in its entirety to a single trade buyer.

Having invited offers, Pfizer now awaits calls from interested parties, among whose number are Colgate-Palmolve and GlaxoSmithKline of the UK. Anglo-Dutch chemicals company Reckitt Benckiser is also said to be interested, as is Switzerland's Novartis.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff