In December 2010, Read took over as CEO of Pfizer after the retirement of Jeffrey Kindler, and has led sweeping change. The company has revamped its drug R&D processes, launched dividend and share buyback increases and announced multi-billion dollar sale and spinoff efforts.

Still, Monday's deal could put Pfizer back in the acquisitions game, where it's been a prolific spender. That's especially the case as Pfizer tries to revamp its drugs R&D pipeline after years of underinvestment relative to some competitors.

"We continue to believe that Pfizer needs to make more significant acquisitions in the future to offset industry-wide price pressures as well as to build a stronger R&D platform for the long term," wrote Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford in a Monday note reacting to the baby health unit sale. Because of the higher-than-expected price tag, Holford says that Pfizer may target spun off drugs units of Abbot Labs and Bristol-Myers ( BMY).

"The rich multiple offered for Pfizer's Nutrition business reinforces our view that Abbott is significantly undervalued on a sum of the parts basis and that significant value can be unlocked following the spin-off of AbbVie."

Previous to Monday's deal, Pfizer had been one of the most aggressive post-crisis M&A players, buying Wyeth in 2009 for over $60 billion and King Pharmaceuticals for $3.3 billion a year later. Overall, Pfizer has cut $230 billion worth of deals since 1987, according to Bloomberg data, which shows that its average acquisition is nearly $4 billion.

In 2011, Pfizer saw its profitability rise to a post-recession high of $12.8 billion on sales of nearly $67.5 billion.

For more on health care sector spinoffs see how a Covidien split continues the breakup of the Tyco empire. See 5 short sighted stock spinoffs for more on corporate breakups.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York.

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