Why Merck (MRK) Stock Is Higher This Morning

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Merck & Co.  (MRK) are up 1.4% to $57.88 in pre-market trade.

The health care company's experimental hepatitis C pill produced clinical trial results positioning the drug as a strong competitor to a potential blockbuster therapy from Gilead Sciences (GILD), BloombergBusinessweek reports.

Merck's two-drug combination once-a-day pill stopped the virus in 98% of newly treated patients with few major side effects, according to a mid-stage study presented today at the European Association for the Study of the Liver in London.

The therapy from Merck will go to final-stage testing as Gilead and AbbVie (ABBV) compete to be first to market with regimens aiming to eliminate the need for interferon, an older therapy with difficult side effects, for patients with a strain of hepatitis C known as genotype 1, the publication said.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates MERCK & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MERCK & CO (MRK) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

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