Sanofi, the Paris-based drug giant, announced Friday that it would spin out its $5 billion consumer health division, which is exploring over-the-counter moves for the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis and the flu treatment Tamiflu.
Investors reacted swiftly, bidding Sanofi’s American depository receipts on the New York Stock Exchange down nearly 18% to less than $44 in morning trading. Jared Holz, an analyst at Mizuho, warned investors that the drop “would be the largest negative single-day stock move across Global Pharma in more than ten years.”
It would be tempting to take the stock move as evidence that investors have finally tired of watching drug companies treat consumer product divisions like baseball trading cards, buying them at a high price only to sell them again a decade later. But the move probably has little to do with the current passion for pharma spinouts or with Sanofi following in the footsteps of GSK, Novartis, and Pfizer in shedding a division. Or even, for that matter, Sanofi, which shed its pharmaceutical ingredients business, EuroAPI, which is now trading at a third of its initial public offering price.