American Home Products Corp. has solved its identity crisis.
After selling well-known food businesses, four medical device companies and its agricultural products division to focus on prescription drugs and consumer health care, AHP found its name, still little known, just didn't fit.
So, as of today, the Madison, N.J.-based company is swapping its moniker of the last 76 years for one much older: Wyeth.
It's a name familiar mostly to doctors, for AHP's huge Wyeth-Ayerst pharmaceuticals division and for one of the oldest U.S. prescription medicine businesses, John Wyeth & Brother, founded in 1860 and bought by American Home in 1931.
"The company appears to be returning to its roots," said Mike Krensavage, a drug industry analyst at Raymond James & Associates.
Robert Essner, 54, who became president and chief executive last May, sees the name change as the final step in a metamorphosis.
Among them: moving from a second-tier player to the No. 7 pharmaceutical company, based on U.S. sales, since 1999, with no short-term threat from generic competition, unlike many big drug makers, and seeing growth of prescription drug sales climb from 50% of all revenue a decade ago to about 80%.