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Drug giant


(MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report

reported earnings of 78 cents a share, beating the

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First Call/Thomson Financial

consensus of 25 analysts by a nickel. At this time last year, the company reported earnings of 64 cents per share.

The company said net income increased 19% to $1.84 billion, and sales rose to $10.6 billion, an increase of 29%. Sales in the human health products division increased 19%, although foreign currency issues cut into international revenues, which accounted for 37% of that division. The company added that it was comfortable with current fourth-quarter earnings expectations, which is currently 75 cents a share, according to First Call. The company has earned $2.15 a share through the first nine months of the year, and is expected to earn $2.84 a share for 2000, according to First Call.


Dow Jones Industrial Average component closed at $77.56 Thursday, down 63 cents.