NEW YORK (AP) – Pfizer Inc. said shareholders at its annual meeting voted in favor of its nominees to its board and for a proposed executive compensation package.
Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, also said it is maintaining its quarterly dividend of 20 cents. Earlier, health care giant Johnson & Johnson, which also is hosting its annual shareholder meeting Thursday, said its board approved an increase of 5.6 percent in its quarterly dividend, to 57 cents.
Pfizer said it will pay its next quarterly dividend on June 7 to shareholders of record on May 13. Pfizer cut its dividend from 32 cents to 16 cents in 2009 to help pay for its acquisition of smaller rival Wyeth. The company later raised its dividend to 18 cents and then to 20 cents.
The New York company announced in March that Chairman Emeritus William Steere and director Robert Burt would retire at the annual meeting. Steere, 74, retired as Pfizer’s CEO in 2001 and has served two five-year terms as its chairman emeritus. Steere has been with the company for 52 years. Burt, 73, joined Pfizer’s board in 2000 after its acquisition of Warner-Lambert. Pfizer directors are generally required to retire at the first annual meeting after they turn 73.
Shareholders elected President and CEO Ian Read, Chairman George Lorch, and directors Dennis Ausiello, Michael Brown, M. Anthony Burns, W. Don Cornwell, Frances Ferguson, William Gray, Constance Horner, James Kilts, John Mascotte, Suzanne Nora Johnson, and Stephen Sanger to one-year terms. Read joined the company’s board in December, when he replaced Jeffrey Kindler as CEO. Lorch replaced Kindler as the company’s chairman.
Shareholders representing about 80.4 percent of the company’s stock were present at the meeting in Dallas. Pfizer said each nominee received at least 90 percent support. The company has not named replacements for Steere and Burt.
About 57.6 percent of shares were voted in favor of the company’s proposed compensation, while 42.4 percent of the shares were voted against the non-binding measure.
At his first annual meeting as CEO, Read said Pfizer made “steady progress” in fulfilling its commitments, reducing costs, integrating Wyeth, and returning value to shareholders in 2010.
“We laid a solid foundation to build sustainable shareholder value over time,” he said. “(2010 was) a very strong year. I believe we’re on the right track.”
The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter results next week.