Healthcare Business

Is Merck Stuck in the Slow Lane?

Chris Lange

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) reported its fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Wednesday. The pharmaceutical giant said that it had $1.16 in EPS and $11.9 billion in revenue. That compared with consensus estimates of $1.15 in EPS and $11.98 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $1.04 in EPS and $11.0 billion in revenue.

During the quarter worldwide sales increased by 8%, or 9% excluding foreign exchange. This was largely driven by Keytruda sales increasing 46% year over year to $3.11 billion. Also, the increase was driven by growth in oncology, partially offset by the ongoing impacts of the loss of market exclusivity for several products.

Animal Health sales totaled $1.1 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, an increase of 8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2018. Excluding the unfavorable effect from foreign exchange, Animal Health sales grew 10%. Growth for the quarter was mainly driven by livestock products due to the Antelliq acquisition.

Looking ahead to the 2020 full year, Merck expects to see EPS of $5.62 to $5.77 and revenue of $48.8 billion to $50.3 billion. Consensus estimates call for $5.61 in EPS and $49.53 billion in revenue for 2019.

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

As evidenced by our results and our 2020 guidance, Merck had an extraordinary year and is in a position of operational and financial strength. It is this position of strength, born of our focused execution, that gives us the confidence to spin off our Women’s Health, trusted Legacy Brands and Biosimilar products into a new company, which will position us to deliver even greater value to patients and shareholders.

Shares of Merck traded down nearly 3% early Wednesday to $85.77, in a 52-week range of $72.23 to $92.64. The consensus price target is $99.35.