What to Look For in the Merck and Pfizer Reports Tuesday Morning

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Both Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) are scheduled to release their most recent quarterly results before the markets open on Tuesday. These are the two biggest companies in the pharma industry, and they can set the trend going forward.

As for Pfizer, consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters call for $0.75 in earnings per share (EPS) on $13.15 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $0.69 in EPS on $12.78 billion in revenue.

Earlier this month, Pfizer provided an update for its late-stage kidney trial. Unfortunately, the results were not up to par, and the independent Data Monitoring Committee recommended stopping the trial.

Specifically, Phase 3 Atlas trial evaluating Inlyta (axitinib) as adjuvant therapy for patients at high risk of recurrent renal cell carcinoma after nephrectomy recommended stopping the trial at a planned interim analysis due to futility.

The recommendation was based on the study failing to demonstrate a clear improvement in the primary endpoint of extending disease-free survival for patients treated with Inlyta compared with patients treated with a placebo. No new safety signals were observed, and the safety profile was consistent with the known profile of Inlyta in advanced renal cell carcinoma.

We can look for more updates to its pipeline and more in its coming earnings report.

As for Merck, the consensus estimates are $1.00 in EPS on revenue of $10.1 billion. In the same period of last year, it said it had EPS of $0.88 and $9.43 billion in revenue.

Also earlier this month, Merck announced that its Phase 3 trial of Keytruda for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) met its primary endpoint for overall survival.

An interim analysis conducted by the independent Data Monitoring Committee demonstrated that treatment with Keytruda resulted in significantly longer overall survival than platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with a PD-L1 tumor proportion score (TPS) of at least 1%. As part of a prespecified analysis plan, overall survival was sequentially tested and was significantly improved in patients with a TPS of at least 50%, with a TPS of at least 20% and then in the entire study population with a TPS of at least 1%.

The safety profile of Keytruda in this trial was consistent with that observed in previously reported monotherapy studies involving patients with advanced NSCLC.

Based on the recommendation of the committee, the trial will continue to evaluate progression-free survival, which is a secondary endpoint. Results from KEYNOTE-042 will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting and submitted to regulatory authorities worldwide.

Shares of Merck were recently trading at $59.65, with a consensus analyst price target of $68.40 and a 52-week trading range of $52.83 to $66.41.

Pfizer was last seen at $36.87 a share, with a consensus price target of $40.11 and a 52-week range of $31.67 to $39.43.