Is Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) trying something completely underhanded… or is it genius?
Pfizer made U.S. regulators want to grab the Advil—or maybe Preparation H—this week when it announced that it was in early talks with Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) to do an inversion merger.
An inversion is a tax move where a U.S. company merges with a company in another country. In this case, Pfizer would move its headquarters to Ireland where the corporate tax rate is a fraction of what it pays in the U.S.
The tiny island has an effective corporate tax rate that’s just 12.5 percent. In the U.S., Pfizer pays about 25 percent of its earnings in taxes.
In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal Pfizer CEO Ian Read said taxes are a major reason he’s looking to merge Pfizer with Allergan.
In fact, that paper’s analysis shows that the company would get back about 88 cents on the dollar (versus 65 cents in the U.S.) on profits.
That could be as high as $3 billion—enough for Pfizer to fund more research and development than ever before.
If the merger goes through, expect Pfizer to both boost its bottom line and invest more in research that could carry the company for decades more.
If the deal goes through and Allergan accepts Pfizer’s offer, investors are bound to make huge gains.
When you’re dealing with billions in sales annually from Advil, Preparation H, Chapstick and Centrum, that extra 12 percent becomes big money in revenue for Pfizer, which has a market cap of $215 billion and reported 2014 revenues of $49.6 billion.
That’s a lot of Robitussin.
Now, the ball is in Allergan’s court…
Does it want to be a behemoth with a $300 billion market cap, or would it rather keep on making Botox and rake in the profits—which mainly come in cash—from that?
Regardless, its stock is near its 5-year high.
This is the third time Pfizer has tried to do an inversion. There aren’t many other targets in Europe left.
If Read is serious about moving his company’s headquarters, this may be his last, best, chance.
Watch the developments closely on this one. Allergan won’t benefit nearly as much, but because its Pfizer’s last, best, hope at a European alliance, it may be a good time to buy some Allergan stock.
Chances are, Pfizer will pay a premium to get into Europe and save billions on taxes.
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