Is This the Turnaround Pfizer and Merck Shareholders Have Been Waiting For?

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Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) reported their most recent quarterly results before the opening bell Tuesday. Despite some trepidation for the health care sector, both of these pharma giants came out ahead after earnings. These stocks have underperformed the Dow Jones industrials so far this year, but it seems that the year is not over for these two yet.

When Pfizer reported its third-quarter results, the drug maker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.75 on revenues of $12.7 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.62 on revenues of $12.26 billion. Quarterly results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.78 and $13.30 billion in revenues.

For the quarter, the company saw 9% operational growth from its biopharma segment (Pfizer RemainCo), primarily driven by Ibrance, Xeljanz, Eliquis, Vyndaqel and Inlyta, as well as 15% operational growth in emerging markets.

On the other hand, Pfizer saw a 26% operational decline from Upjohn, primarily due to the U.S. loss of exclusivity of Lyrica in July 2019.

As for 2019 full-year guidance, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $2.94 to $3.00 and revenue between $51.2 billion and $52.2 billion. Consensus estimates are calling for $2.82 in EPS and $51.32 billion in revenue for the full year.

Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, commented:

We reported strong third-quarter 2019 financial results, driven by 9% volume-driven operational revenue growth in our Biopharma business, including growth from key brands such as Ibrance, Xeljanz, Eliquis, Vyndaqel and Inlyta as well as in emerging markets. Upjohn revenues were negatively impacted primarily by the July 2019 loss of exclusivity of Lyrica in the U.S., while Consumer Healthcare revenues declined as a result of the completion of the JV transaction with GSK(1) during the quarter.

Shares of Pfizer traded up about 4% to $38.74 Tuesday morning, in a 52-week range of $33.97 to $46.47. The consensus price target is $41.45.

For its third quarter, Merck said that it had $1.51 in EPS and $12.4 billion in revenue, which compared with consensus estimates of $1.24 in EPS and $11.63 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $1.19 in EPS and $10.79 billion in revenue.

During the quarter worldwide sales increased by 15%, or 16% excluding foreign exchange. This was largely driven by Keytruda sales increasing 62% year over year to $3.1 billion and Human Health Vaccines Sales increasing 17% to $2.5 billion.

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

We achieved another quarter of strong revenue and earnings growth as we continue to realize the benefits of our sustained investment in research and development and our focus on commercial execution. We are confident that the investments we are making now will allow us to convert cutting-edge science into medicines and vaccines of great benefit to patients and value to shareholders.

Looking ahead to the full year, Merck expects to see EPS of $5.12 to $5.17 and revenue of $46.5 billion to $47.0 billion. Consensus estimates are calling for $4.92 in EPS and $45.98 billion in revenue for 2019.

Shares of Merck traded up about 2%, at $83.90 in a 52-week range of $70.12 to $87.35. The consensus price target is $95.93.


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