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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
09/02/201515:42:23Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
09/02/201515:42:23Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
09/02/201515:30:17Initial Statement of Beneficial Ownership (3)
09/02/201515:30:17Initial Statement of Beneficial Ownership (3)
09/02/201508:00:00FDA Approves Pediatric Indication for EMEND® (aprepitant) Capsules...
09/01/201509:00:00New Analyses from the IMPROVE-IT Study with VYTORIN® (ezetimibe...
08/28/201516:00:00FDA: Some Diabetes Drugs Can Cause Joint Pain
08/20/201508:30:00New Analyses from the IMPROVE-IT Outcomes Study of VYTORIN®...
08/18/201513:17:00Merck Recalls TEMODAR® and Temozolomide Bottles with Cracked...
08/18/201508:00:00FDA Accepts Supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA...
08/14/201508:00:00Celebrity Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, Merck and the American...
08/13/201508:00:00Merck and MD Anderson Cancer Center Announce Strategic Immuno-Oncology...
08/06/201516:38:34Quarterly Report (10-q)
08/04/201514:43:05Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
08/04/201514:43:05Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4)
07/31/201519:27:51WHO Says Ebola Vaccine Effective in African Trial -- Update
07/31/201515:16:17WHO Says Ebola Vaccine Effective in African Trial -- Update
07/31/201509:00:04WHO Says Ebola Vaccine Effective in African Trial
07/31/201509:00:03WHO Says Ebola Vaccine Effective in African Trial -- Update
07/31/201508:47:49WHO Says Ebola Vaccine Effective in African Trial

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