Merck (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday, and lifted its 2019 profit guidance, as its blockbuster lung cancer treatment topped $2.2 billion.
Merck said GAAP earnings for the three months ending in March came in at $1.12 per share, more than four times higher than the same period last year and seven cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Merck said, rose 8% to $10.8 billion thanks in part to a 55% surge in sales of Keytruda lung cancer treatment.
Looking into 2019, Dow component Merck said it would both narrow and lift its full-year revenue forecast to a range of $43.9 to $45.1 billion, while pegging GAAP earnings guidance to a range of $4.02 to $4.12 per share.
"Our strong start to 2019, with double-digit sales and EPS growth in the first quarter, demonstrates our execution across all aspects of our business and the strength of our key growth pillars, including oncology and vaccines," said CEO Ken Frazier. "Our investments in research and development are paying off, and we are confident in our science-driven strategy, growth prospects and ability to sustainably deliver value to patients and shareholders."
Merck shares were up 1.8% to $78.11 on Tuesday.
Merck also said it would shutter plants and cut jobs in a global restructuring program it hopes to be completed by 2023. The company will take a pre-tax charge of between $800 million and $12 billion for the cuts, Merck said, much of which will be used to pay employee separation and plant closure costs.