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Buy, Sell or Hold: Six Reasons Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is a Generational Buy

By Jack Barnes, Contributing Writer, Money Morning

My parents are in their late 80s and still living life to the fullest. I honestly hope I live as long and am as active as they are today.

When my father was born his life expectancy was about 56 years. Today, he is getting close to twice that age and hardly slowing down. Last summer we took away the keys to his car, so he bought a street legal electric car that does not need a license and rejoined the world.

When I went home last month to visit my mother after she had a surprise triple heart attack, I was shocked at how many medications she was taking. She is recovering thanks to a cocktail of pills that are addressing her medical issues. This is technology that did not exist even 20 years ago.

There are very few companies that actually touch your life regularly. I am not talking about fast food companies, which of course add to our waistlines and cholesterol levels, but companies that actually make a product that either saves your life, or greatly increases the life expectancy of your life.

The bio-pharmaceutical industry has had one of the largest impacts on extending the life of the average person. The impact and implications of which, I don’t believe have been fully realized yet by the investing community.

That brings us to Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).

Pfizer in the last 161 years has grown into one of the largest companies in the world. In the last 12 trailing months, the company generated $66.7 billion in revenue, which it used to leverage into gross profits of $41.1 billion. Pfizer has a market capitalization of $139 billion with an enterprise value of $158.6 billion once its net debt is included.

The company currently pays out a dividend yield equal to 4.55%, having raised its dividend rate on Dec. 13. The company has been around since 1849, and employs over 110,000 employees. It is listed as the world largest research pharmaceutical company.

Pfizer generates its profits by providing medical drugs prescribed by medical doctors to their patients. This is one of those rare cases where a company may be extending the life of a client, allowing the company to continue to generate revenue long past the realistic life span of the patient (without access to the drug).

This boost in life span means we now have multiple generations of retired people living longer lives.

In my family, my parents are retired, my siblings are in their 60s and are retired, and their oldest children are now reaching retirement age from their first jobs. We could soon have three generations of retired people living near each other.

Each of these generations will spend more on the growing “diet” of pills necessary to extend their lives than the last generation did before it. This is building a long term, ever-growing pool of people who exist because of their access to life extending drugs provided by companies like Pfizer.

Pfizer is also active in the mergers and acquisition (M&A) field, as it continues to grow its asset base. Pfizer in 2009 purchased Wyeth for some $68 billion, and the company currently is making a tender offer for King Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: KG)

Let’s do a quick review of Pfizer and why it is a “Buy” today,

  • It pays a high dividend, currently around 4.55%.
  • It generates over $61 billion revenue.
  • The company had $41 billion in profits last year.
  • It’s the world’s largest research pharmaceutical company.
  • It has a growing multigenerational client base.
  • There is organic and M&A-based growth.

In today’s economy, it’s always nice to find an investment that has a bulletproof balance sheet, pays a high dividend, and has a very liquid options market. It provides an investor with more than just buying and holding and praying that the stock price will continue to rise. Pfizer gives an investor a chance to generate cash flow, which can be lived on, while waiting for the market to unlock equity gains.

Action to Take: Pfizer is one of those rare investments that an investor can purchase and sleep well at night knowing that its balance sheet, assets, cash flow, and dividend are all real. In fact, Pfizer makes a great investment to leverage up on using a covered call strategy to increase the cash yield beyond its 4.6% annual rate. While Pfizer is currently unloved by the market, with a year-to-date return of -8% compared to a return of 12% in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index during the same time period, I believe that the stability of long term profits and high cash yield in the dividends will drive interest in the company in 2011 and beyond.

Let’s pick up our position in Pfizer at market. The stock is currently trading around $17 and change. What I really like about Pfizer is that it has a very liquid options market. If you are interested in boosting the near term cash flow generation of your portfolio, let’s consider doing the following.

Let’s write one covered call per 100 shares of Pfizer that you are interested in generating extra income on. The $18 strike calls for February 2011 currently are being bid at 25 cents, with over 13,000 contracts traded on the day this article was written.

We can book the extra yield now, and repeat this process every few months, as our contracts expire. If we have our shares taken away, we can reenter and start the process over. In the case of a stock like Pfizer, where there is little reason to expect a break out in stock prices, an investor can generate a significant supply of cash flow from more than just the high dividend rate of the common stock.

(**) Special Note of Disclosure: Jack Barnes holds no interest in Pfizer Inc.