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Pfizer Drops the Big Blue Pill to Highlight Shift in Strategy

Courtesy Pfizer

Pfizer is dropping the big blue pill for something a bit more… science-y.

The pharma giant said Tuesday that it was adopting a new logo to replace the blue, pill-shaped oval that has represented the company since the late 1940s. The new symbol, also in blue, resembles a double helix, the shape of the DNA molecule.

The rebranding comes as Pfizer (ticker: PFE) completes a slimming-down that has seen it shed a range of businesses, to focus almost entirely on inventing and buying new drugs.

The turn away from the big blue pill also, incidentally, comes months after the company spun off the division that sells Viagra, Pfizer’s “little blue pill.”

“2021 marks the advent of the new Pfizer,” the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said in an email to staff announcing the new look for the company. “To mark this exciting moment in our transformational journey, we’ve been working hard to evolve the historic Pfizer brand identity, and today we are revealing our new emblem.”

Meanwhile, Pfizer’s chief medical officer, Dr. Mace Rothenberg, said on Twitter on Monday that it was his last day at the company, where he has worked for a dozen years. His successor will be Dr. Aida Habtezion, a professor of medicine at Stanford.

Rothenberg, an oncologist, was involved in the development of key cancer drugs at Pfizer. Habtezion specializes in gastroenterology and hepatology.

Pfizer’s success in developing one of the first two Covid-19 vaccines to receive emergency authorization in the U.S., alongside its partner BioNTech (BNTX), came at an ideal time for a company seeking a new identity as a scientific innovator. As Barron’s reported in a cover story in November of 2019, the company’s science side has not always been its strength. Known more for its commercial prowess, Pfizer suffered a research and development dry spell that ran from the late 1990s and through much of the 2000s.

It is now banking on that trajectory to change. It couldn’t have asked for a better start than the Covid-19 vaccine, which is now rolling out around the world.

Shares of Pfizer are effectively flat over the past 12 months. The stock is trading at 12.6 times its expected earnings over the next 12 months, exactly its five-year average, according to FactSet. Of the 19 analysts who cover the stock tracked by FactSet, six rate it a Buy or Overweight, while 13 rate it a hold.

In his letter to his staff, Bourla said that the new logo was an “expression of our commitment to the transformative power of science.”

Shares of Pfizer were flat on Tuesday morning.

Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]

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