Demand for Drug and Vaccines Boosts Merck's Third Quarter

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Demand for its successful cancer-fighting drug Keytruda and other drugs and vaccines helped Merck  (MRK) - Get Report post adjusted third-quarter earnings and sales that beat analysts’ forecasts.

Merck posted adjusted net income of $3 billion, or $1.74 a share, vs. income of $2.67 billion, or $1.51 a share in the second quarter of 2019. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.44 a share.

Revenue at the pharmaceutical giant came in at $12.6 billion, up 1% from last year's $12.4 billion though also above analysts’ forecasts of $12.2 billion.

Strong sales of both key drugs like its cancer-fighting treatment Keytruda as well as human vaccines helped propel second-quarter earnings, the company said. Keytruda sales for the quarter jumped 21% to $3.72 billion. That was offset, however, by a 105 drop in sales of the company's HPV vaccine Gardasil, Merck said.

That was offset, however, by a 10% drop in sales of the company's HPV vaccine Gardasil 9, Merck said, as lower back-to-school demand negatively impacted vaccine sales, in particular Gardasil 9.

On the operating expenses front, Merck said lower promotional and selling costs as well as lower research and development expenses net of investments in Covid-19-related antiviral and vaccine research programs helped drive improvement of approximately $115 million.

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