Pfizer Announces $10 Billion Share Repurchase Program

Pfizer Inc., the world’s biggest drugmaker, said it will buy back $10 billion in stock after earlier this week announcing it will retire about $11.4 billion in shares through the spinoff of its animal-health unit.

The buyback is the fourth major share repurchase program for New York-based Pfizer in the past 2 1/2 years. During that time, the company has announced $39 billion in share buybacks, including today’s. Pfizer has $3.9 billion left on its current repurchase program, the company said today in a statement.

Ian Read, Pfizer’s chief executive officer, has said that share repurchases are the best uses of Pfizer’s cash, compared with acquisitions or increasing the dividend. Read has shed non-drug units to focus on developing and selling new, brand-name therapies. The company, which had a market capitalization of about $200 billion as of today’s close, is looking at whether it will split itself and get rid of its generics drug business.

Pfizer earlier this week announced the completion of a deal to exchange shares of its own stock for equity in Zoetis Inc., its former animal-health unit. That exchange is expected to retire about $11.4 billion in Pfizer shares.

Pfizer shares gained 1.4 percent to $28.58 in extended trading at 5:35 p.m. New York time after the buyback was announced. The company’s stock has increased 25 percent in the past 12 months.