Merck Sees Big Boost From Keytruda in Q4

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Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) reported its fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Friday. The company said that it had $0.98 in earnings per share (EPS) and $10.43 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.94 in EPS on revenue of $10.49 billion. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $0.89 and $10.12 billion in revenue.

During the quarter, pharmaceutical sales increased 4% to $9.3 billion, including a 1% positive impact from foreign exchange. This increase was driven primarily by significant growth of Keytruda, reflecting the company’s continued launches with new indications globally. Strong momentum for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer contributed significantly to Keytruda’s overall growth.

The company reported its pharmaceutical segment sales as follows:

  • Januvia/Janument sales grew 1% to $1.52 billion.
  • Keytruda sales increased 169% to $1.30 billion.
  • Gardasil/Gardasil 9 sales increased 17% to $633 million.
  • Zetia/Vytorin sales decreased 42% to $509 million.
  • Proquad, M-M0R II and Varivax sales were flat at $403 million.
  • Isentress/Isentress HD sales decreased 9% to $308 million.
  • Zepatier sales increased 29% to $296 million.
  • Pneumovax 23 sales increased 11% to $263 million.
  • Simponi sales increased 17% to $217 million.
  • Bridion sales increased 50% to $209 million.

Separately, Animal Health sales totaled $981 million, an increase of 11% compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, including a 3% positive impact from foreign exchange.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $4.08 to $4.23 and revenues between $41.2 billion and $42.7 billion. The consensus estimates are $4.11 in EPS and $41.07 billion in revenue.

Kenneth C. Frazier, board chair and chief executive of Merck, commented:

Our 2017 results reflect the underlying strength of our business and our ability to grow, despite significant headwinds. We enter 2018 with strong operating momentum, based on our key pillars of growth that will enable us to deliver on our mission of improving patients’ lives.

Shares of Merck closed Thursday at $59.86, with a consensus analyst price target of $67.09 and a 52-week range of $53.63 to $66.80. Following the announcement, the stock was up only slightly to $60.10 in early trading indications Friday.