Pfizer earnings beat the Street. Beating future hurdles will be tougher

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) sure had a busy third quarter, thanks at least partly to the ongoing process of acquiring Wyeth for $68 billion. The two officially merged on Oct. 16, creating an even larger pharmaceutical company that will likely continue to restructure for some time. So this latest quarterly report doesn't include results from Wyeth operations, leaving investors in the dark about Wyeth's third quarter.

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Jeff Kindler described Pfizer's results as "solid operational performance in an environment that continues to be challenging." Earnings indeed were up 26 percent to $2.88 billion, or 43 cents a share, but that was mostly due to cost-cutting measures from site closures and job cuts -- 1,100 during the third quarter alone. Adjusted earnings per share were 51 cents, beating estimates of 48 cents per share.