Merck Beats, but Offers No Forward Guidance - TheStreet

Merck Beats, but Offers No Forward Guidance

The drugmaker beats Wall Street targets by 3 cents a share; however, the impact of Vytorin weighs.
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(MRK) - Get Report

surpassed second-quarter revenue and profit targets Monday, but declined to offer forward guidance without first understanding the impact of new results from a trial on cholesterol drug Vytorin.

Merck shares, which gave up 6.2% during the regular session, were losing another $2.53, or 7.2%, to $32.80 in recent after-hours trading Monday evening.

The company reported second-quarter profit of $1.77 billion, or 82 cents a share, vs.$1.68 billion, or 77 cents a share, in the year-prior period. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 86 cents a share, vs. 82 cents a share in the year-ago quarter.

Worldwide sales fell 1% to $6.1 billion for the quarter, including a 5% favorable impact from foreign exchange.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 83 cents a share on revenue of $6.05 billion.

This morning Merck, along with



, delayed the release of earnings results until after the market close so that data from the so-called

SEAS study

could first be presented.

In the SEAS study, Vytorin decreased "bad" cholesterol, but proved no better than placebo at lowering the risk of major cardiovascular events in patients suffering from aortic stenosis, a condition that blocks blood flow to part of the heart. The drug also didn't improve aortic valve disease events, such as valve replacement surgery, hospitalization due to heart failure and death related to the heart.

Moreover, there were more cancer deaths in the Vytorin arm of the study than in the placebo arm -- although the companies said any relationship is inconclusive because of the small sample size in the study.

"Earlier today, data for the SEAS study was presented by the primary investigator," said CEO Richard Clark. "We are moving quickly to fully assess the potential implications of the data for our cholesterol joint venture."

Merck said it is currently assessing the impact of the results of the SEAS study on the contribution from the Merck/Schering-Plough joint venture and thus isn't providing 2008 equity income guidance; 2008 GAAP and non-GAAP EPS guidance; and any long-term financial performance guidance.

Combined worldwide sales of Zetia and Vytorin were $1.2 billion for the second quarter, a 9% decrease compared with the second quarter of 2007.

Worldwide sales of chronic asthma and allergy drug Singulair decreased 1% to $1.1 billion. Sales of antihypertensive drugs cozaar and hyzaar rose 11% to $941 million in revenue. Sales of type II diabetes treatment Januvia increased to $334 million from $144 million. However, sales of bone drug Fosamax and Fosamax Plus D fell 48% to $411 million, due to a loss of market exclusivity for most formulations in the U.S.

Worldwide sales of vaccines fell 5% to $995 million for the second quarter. Sales of cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil fell 9% to $326 million. Still, the company said its vaccine joint venture Sanofi Pasteur-MSD recorded end-market sales of Gardasil of $234 million, a 28% rise driven by the continued roll-out of the vaccine in Europe.

Looking ahead, the company expects 2008 worldwide sales of $4.4 billion to $4.6 billion from Singulair, $3.5 billion to $3.7 billion from Cozaar/Hyzaaar, $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion from Gardasil, and between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion from other vaccines.