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Merck 1Q Net Rises 67% On Lower Costs; Sales Growth Slows

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Merck & Co.'s (MRK) first-quarter earnings rose 67% as the drug maker's cost controls helped offset slower-than-expected sales growth. Merck, like its rivals, has been cutting costs as part of an effort to soften the hit from increased generic competition. The company's top-selling allergy and asthma medication Singulair loses patent exclusivity in August and the ripple-effect from generic versions of rival Pfizer Inc.'s (PFE) cholesterol fighter Lipitor have contributed to a decline in sales of Merck's anticholesterol drug Vytorin. Merck has said it expects to seek regulatory approval for five new products this year and in 2013, including potential treatments for osteoporosis, insomnia and a next-generation vaccine against a cancer-causing virus. The drug maker also has been focusing on areas such as hepatitis C and diabetes. Merck reported a profit of $1.74 billion, or 56 cents a share, up from $1.04 billion, or 34 cents, a year earlier. Excluding items such as acquisition-related and restructuring costs, earnings rose to 99 cents from 92 cents. Its March projection was earnings of 95 cents to 98 cents a share, below analysts' expectations at the time. Sales rose 1.3% to $11.73 billion, missing the $11.82 billion forecast from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Operating margin rose to 21.4% from 14.9%, reflecting a 14% drop in research and development costs. Pharmaceutical sales grew 2.7% to $10.08 billion. Singulair sales edged up 0.9%, while sales of Vytorin declined 8%. The animal-health business, which includes products for farm animals and pets, posted a 8.3% revenue increase. Sales in the consumer division--which includes over-the-counter allergy medicine Claritin and Coppertone skin-care products--rose 7.2%. Shares closed Thursday at $38.47 and were inactive premarket. The stock is up 2% so far this year. -By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; melodie.warner@dowjones.com

Stock News for Merck (MRK)
DateTimeHeadline
07/07/201415:20:45Novartis Wins 'Breakthrough' Status for Leukemia Treatment
06/09/201417:14:14Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- 7th Update
06/09/201416:58:36MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Close Up; S&P 500, Dow At Record
06/09/201413:13:25Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- 6th Update
06/09/201411:24:46Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- 5th Update
06/09/201410:53:33MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Edge Higher; S&P 500 Hits Record
06/09/201409:44:33Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- 3rd Update
06/09/201409:44:31U.S. Hot Stocks: Hot Stocks to Watch
06/09/201409:00:14Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- 2nd Update
06/09/201408:29:04Merck to Buy Idenix for $3.85 Billion -- Update
05/13/201407:40:16Merck to Sell Some Ophthalmology Assets
05/08/201410:10:37Merck Plans Phase 3 Trial for Drug for Bone Marrow Transplant...
05/06/201419:32:35Bayer to Buy Merck's Consumer Business for $14.2 Billion-8th...
05/06/201418:08:21MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Fall; Nasdaq Leads Losses
05/06/201417:43:42Bayer to Buy Merck's Consumer Business for $14.2 Billion-7th...
05/06/201417:35:37Bayer to Buy Merck's Consumer Business for $14.2 Billion-6th...
05/06/201417:34:33EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Fall As OECD Calls For ECB Action
05/06/201417:33:18MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Fall Amid Caution In Global Markets
05/06/201417:30:18Bayer Says It Remains Committed to Animal Health Unit
05/06/201417:26:19Bayer to Buy Merck's Consumer Business for $14.2 Billion-4th...

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