How Keytruda Saved Merck’s Q1

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Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) released its most recent quarterly results before the markets opened on Tuesday.

The pharma giant posted $1.05 in earnings per share (EPS) on $10.04 billion in revenue, which compares with Thomson Reuters consensus estimates of $1.00 in EPS on revenue of $10.1 billion. In the first quarter of last year, Merck said it had EPS of $0.88 and $9.43 billion in revenue.

In terms of its segments, the company reported as follows:

  • Pharmaceutical sales totaled $8.92 billion, up 9% year over year.
  • Animal Health sales totaled $1.07 billion, an increase of 13%.
  • Other revenues totaled $53 million, a decrease of 83%.

The pharmaceutical segment increase was primarily driven by growth in oncology, hospital acute care and diabetes, partially offset by lower sales in virology and the ongoing impacts of the loss of market exclusivity for several products.

However, Keytruda played the biggest role in it, increasing 151% to $1.46 billion, reflecting the company’s continued launches with new indications globally and the strong momentum for the treatment of patients with non-small-cell lung carcinoma, as Keytruda is the only anti-PD-1 approved in the first-line setting.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, Merck expects to see EPS in the range of $4.16 to $4.28 and revenues between $41.8 billion and $43.0 billion. The consensus estimates call for $4.19 in EPS on $41.91 billion in revenue.

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

Merck had a strong start to the year driven by KEYTRUDA, GARDASIL, BRIDION and Animal Health. This provides good momentum as we continue to execute on our pillars of growth and look to deliver innovative medicines and vaccines that address unmet needs for patients around the world.

Shares of Merck were last seen down fractionally at $58.42, with a consensus analyst price target of $68.40 and a 52-week range of $52.83 to $66.41.

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