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Updated from 8:42 a.m. EDT


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missed analysts' profit forecast for the first quarter, said that sales declined from a year earlier and lowered its full-year net earnings estimate because of costs related to the pending merger with




Shares of the Whitehouse Station, N.J., drugmaker were down 6.1% at $23.69 recently.

Merck, one of five components of the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

reporting results Tuesday, said it earned 74 cents a share in the quarter, excluding items. On average, Wall Street analysts were predicting 77 cents.

After factoring in the items, Merck earned $1.46 billion, or 67 cents a share. A year earlier, the company made $3.33 billion, or $1.52 a share. The 2008 results included a $1.4 billion after-tax gain from a distribution from


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Merck's sales, meanwhile, fell 8% to $5.39 billion. Unfavorable foreign-exchange rates and the loss of domestic marketing exclusivity for Fosamax, an osteoporosis drug, contributed to the decline in revenue. The consensus outlook was for $5.77 billion.


also reported a year-over-year drop in sales, though its adjusted earnings exceeded projections.

While Merck reaffirmed its view that it will earn $3.15 to $3.30 a share this year, prior to counting certain items, the company cut its net profit estimate to a range of $2.84 to $3.09 a share as a result of expenses for the proposed merger.

Additionally, Merck reduced its revenue guidance to between $23.2 billion and $23.7 billion. Previously, it had projected $23.7 billion to $24.2 billion, and analysts are looking for $23.87 billion.

Outside of its numbers, Merck also said it will delay seeking U.S. approval for telcagepant, a migraine headache treatment. The company no longer expects to file a new drug application in 2009, and it will provide an updated timeline later.

Merck said the proposal to combine its operations with Schering-Plough is going as planned, and the companies expect to close the transaction in the fourth quarter.

The planned merger is one of a series of deals that has reshaped the pharmaceutical and biotech arena in recent months. The other, and bigger, blockbuster has


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Among other pacts,


recently took over


, in which it already owned a significant stake, and just this week


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said it has agreed to buy privately held

Stiefel Laboratories