Merck Clears a Low Hurdle for Q4 Earnings

February 1, 2019 by 247chrislange

When Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) released its fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Thursday, the pharma giant said that it had $1.04 in earnings per share (EPS) and $11 billion in revenue. That compared with consensus estimates of $1.03 in EPS and $10.94 billion in revenue, as well as the $0.98 per share and $10.43 billion posted in the same period of last year.

In the latest quarter, worldwide sales increased 5% from the fourth quarter of 2017, including a 3% negative impact from foreign exchange.

Keytruda, the firm’s main cancer treatment, brought in $2.15 billion in the quarter, up 88% year over year. It generated $7.17 billion in 2018, up by the same percentage, and now accounts for more than 20% of the company’s revenue.

Growth in oncology was driven by a significant increase in sales of Keytruda, reflecting the strong momentum for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer and the company’s continued launches with new indications globally.

Merck reported on a few of the major products as follows:

  • Januvia/Janumet net sales decreased 4% to $1.47 billion.
  • Gardasil/Gardasil 9 net sales increased 32% to $835 million.
  • Proquad, M-M-R II and Varivax net sales increased 13% to $455 million.
  • Pneumovax 23 net sales increased 23% to $322 million.
  • Isentress/Isentress HD net sales decreased 9% to $280 million.

Looking ahead to the 2019 full year, the firm expects to see EPS in the range of $4.57 to $4.72 and worldwide sales between $43.2 billion and $44.7 billion. Consensus estimates call for $4.69 in EPS and $44.54 billion in revenue for the year.

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

Last year was a strong one for Merck marked by substantial progress on scientific and commercial fronts. The fourth-quarter and full-year results further bolster our confidence in Merck’s innovation-based strategy in which our key pillars – oncology, vaccines, animal health, and select hospital and specialty care products – are expected to drive sustainable growth over the long-term. We enter 2019 with good momentum, anticipating the many opportunities afforded by our broad and differentiated portfolio and pipeline.

Shares of Merck closed Thursday at $74.43, in a 52-week range of $52.83 to $80.19. The consensus price target is $82.09. Following the announcement, the stock was up about 2.6% at $76.41 in early trading indications Friday.

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