Friday, June 9, 2017

Blog #3 - Coherence of Business Units in Pfizer

In "The Coherence Premium," there is an example of very large pharmaceutical company (Pfizer) who sold off some off their business units because they didn't fit into the company's overall strategic goals, and because they were not willing to put forth the effort in sustaining those products (i.e. continuous flavor innovation).  Instead, they built up a consumer division, which grew largely due to recent acquisitions, and were then able to sell that business unit at a great profit to Johnson & Johnson. 

Doing some further research on Pfizer, you can see that they've done this repeatedly and continue to do so.  They sold their nutrition business to Nestle for $11.8B in 2012, they divested and spun off their animal health unit (now called Zoetis) in 2012, and they re-entered the consumer health care division, which they sold off to J&J, when they acquired Wyeth in 2009.  By partaking in major acquisitions and gaining various business units, determining if those units are in the strategic view of the company or not, and then growing them or selling them off, Pfizer has become very profitable. [1][2] More recently, Pfizer acquired Hospira and with that acquisition came the Medical Devices business unit.  Pfizer, not being in the device manufacturing business, decided to sell off that business unit for $900 million.[3] 

These actions demonstrate Pfizer's ability not to fall for one of the "Seven Ways to Fail Big" that Carroll and Mui discuss in their article.  You can see how many acquisitions that Pfizer have made over the years could qualify for the various ways Carroll and Mui describe failures to occur. 
  • Synergies - Pfizer does purchase companies with similar strengths, but they do so in hopes to grow areas that their existing businesses may be falling short (they're not going to buy another company that competes with their top-selling drugs).
  • Staying the Course - Pfizer could stop acquiring companies and just continue to do what they do, but that doesn't fit their strategy.
  • Consolidation Rush - Quickly selling off business units, instead of growing them and selling them for a much larger profit (as we saw with the consumer division and sale to J&J).
  • Roll-Up - Pfizer has spun off divisions instead of trying to roll them into one larger unit.  By doing this, they are able to stay their course strategically and not bring confusion to their business units.
Thus far, Pfizer has been very successful at acquisitions and mergers, making them one of the largest drug companies on the planet.  Their recent run-ins with the US government has not yielded favorable results, however.  Trying to purchase Irish based companies, in order to run a tax-inversion strategy failed when the US government enacted certain laws that prohibited the acquisitions from being successful.   It would've been the largest deal of it's kind ($160B USD), but the US government didn't want Pfizer to move it's tax domicile to Ireland for a cheaper rate (15% in Ireland, compared to 35% in the USA), and so passed new laws to make the acquisition not worth Pfizer's trouble. [4]

If you really look into Pfizer's strategy over the last 20 years, you can clearly see they are hell-bent on acquiring growth, instead of focusing on organic growth.


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