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2013 has been a pretty quiet year for
MRK). Shares of the big pharma firm have only managed to climb 15% since the start of the year, a pretty decent number for most sectors, but one that falls flat compared to the stellar returns of the rest of the pharmaceutical space. Still, with a dividend payout of 3.55%, Merck makes our list of Dow Dogs worth watching this quarter.
Merck is a $140 billion pharmaceutical firm with a portfolio of well-known drug names that includes Gardasil, Claritin, and Zocor. Singulair has long been Merck's crown jewel, but the firm lost patent protection in the middle of last year, opening the field to generic competition. To fight off the threat of patent drop-offs and cut costs, Merck acquired Schering Plough in 2009, adding an attractive drug pipeline to its existing development efforts. Those new products hold a strong shot at undoing the revenue losses from Singular and other expiring patents.
Like Intel, Merck currently sports a strong balance sheet with plenty of liquidity - more than enough to cover dividend payouts and continue investing in research and development for new drugs. Keep an eye on earnings slated for Oct. 28.