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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
06/24/201608:00:00Merck to Hold Second-Quarter 2016 Sales and Earnings Conference...
06/22/201611:50:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Try To Extend Gains To 3rd Day Ahead...
06/20/201612:30:00Results of Phase 2 Study of Merck’s Investigational Beta-Lactamase I...
06/17/201613:35:56Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/17/201613:34:56Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/17/201613:33:19Annual Report of Employee Stock Plans (11-k)
06/16/201617:08:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Snap 5-day Losing Streak; Dow Reverses...
06/16/201616:37:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stocks Snap 5-day Losing Streak; Dow Reverses...
06/16/201612:44:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Fall As Investors Worry About Brexit...
06/16/201611:09:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Head For 6th Daily Drop Amid Global...
06/16/201610:00:00MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Industrials Drop 113 Points As Brexit Fears...
06/16/201608:00:00Systematic Review of 58 Publications of Real-World Use of GARDASIL®...
06/16/201606:45:00Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Demonstrates Superior Progression-Free & O...
06/15/201608:30:00Merck Highlights Ongoing Commitment to Fighting Infectious Diseases...
06/14/201602:00:00New Data From GAP Landmark Trial Confirm GRAZAX® Significantly...
06/13/201611:00:00New Data From GAP Landmark Trial Confirm GRAZAX® Prevents Asthma...
06/13/201610:30:00Merck’s Investigational Insulin Glargine, MK-1293, Met Primary E...
06/11/201611:00:00Merck & Pfizer Announce Two Pivotal Phase 3 Studies for Ertugliflozin...
06/09/201619:07:00Merck to Acquire Biotech Company Afferent -- Update
06/09/201618:50:00Merck to Acquire Biotech Company Afferent

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