Updated from 8:02 a.m. EST

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

shares were rising slighltly after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of $1.64 billion, or 78 cents a share, a swing from a year-earlier loss of $1.63 billion, or 75 cents a share, when the company recorded a charge for a settlement to end most of the patent lawsuits over its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

Excluding charges, earnings in the quarter were 87 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the maker of vaccines, cholesterol drugs and asthma treatment Singulair to report earnings of 74 cents a share.

Sales in the quarter fell 3% to $6.03 billion.

The company reiterated it expects earnings in 2009, excluding certain items, of $3.15 to $3.30 a share. Including items, such as a pretax restructuring charge of about $400 million to $600 million, earnings are expected at $2.95 to $3.17 a share, Merck said.

Merck reaffirmed its expectations for full-year 2009 revenue of $23.7 billion to $24.2 billion, saying that based on current information revenue is likely to be in the lower half of the range.

Rival

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

, meanwhile, also reported a fourth-quarter profit, but a weak U.S. dollar and sputtering sales of its cholesterol drug Vytorin inhibited revenue.

Merck shares were up 3.5% to $29.43 in recent trading Tuesday. Schering shares were up 4.2% to $18.20.

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