Sunday 21 January 2018

Merck reports profit in face of market gloom

A Merck production plant in New Jersey.
A Merck production plant in New Jersey.

Drew Armstrong

MERCK, the second-biggest US drugmaker, reported a profit that beat analyst estimates after sales of the vaccine Gardasil and rheumatoid arthritis medicine Remicade rose.

Third-quarter earnings, excluding one-time items, were 92c a share – beating the average analyst estimate.

Sales fell 4pc to $11bn (€7.9bn), hurt by patent expirations and foreign currency exchange.

Merck – which employs 2,000 people in Ireland – has struggled to keep investor support even after saying it will dedicate more resources to top seller Januvia.

The drug's sales fell 5pc. The company this month announced it would fire an additional 8,500 workers and overhaul research and development.

While Merck has cut positions and pursued share buybacks, its stock has increased less than 1pc in the past 12 months.

Merck shareholders have been most concerned that sales of Januvia will face more competition, said Tony Butler, an analyst with Barclays. Third-quarter sales of Januvia fell to $927m from a year earlier.

Net income fell to $1.12bn from $1.73bn a year earlier. The company narrowed its 2013 profit forecast to $3.48 to $3.52 a share from $3.45 to $3.55 a share. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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