Not too long ago, you'd have had a devil of a time finding a Wall Street money manager with many kind words for Pfizer Chairman Edmund T. Pratt Jr. Back in 1989, analysts skewered the longtime CEO for doing precious little to boost the company's flagging stock price or sliding earnings. What really sent their blood pressures soaring, though, was the fact that Pfizer Inc. hadn't launched a major new product since 1982. In fact, some investors were hanging on to Pfizer stock as a possible takeover play.
Two years later, Pfizer has a new CEO--William C. Steere Jr.--and a pipeline full of promising new drugs. And, ironically, much of the credit goes to Pratt, who continued to pump cash into Pfizer's research-and-development efforts despite the dampening effect on the company's earnings and stock performance. "We were getting roasted by analysts when we were investing in R&D during the `80s," says Steere. "Now, we're seeing the payoff."