Merck Pulls Off a Banner Quarter and Says There's More to Come

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Merck on Friday revealed a banner second quarter, posting adjusted earnings and sales that handily beat analysts’ forecasts and also re-raising its full-year 2020 earnings and sales guidance after lowering it in the first quarter.

Merck posted adjusted earnings of $3 billion, or $1.37 a share, vs. income of $2.67 billion, or $1.30 a share, in the second quarter of 2019. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.06 a share.

Revenue was $10.9 billion, down 8% from last year though also above analysts’ forecasts of $10.4 billion.

“Despite the impact Covid-19 had on patient access to healthcare providers, Merck continued to execute well,” CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement. “We remain confident that Merck will drive strong long-term growth based on underlying demand for our unique portfolio of innovative medicines, vaccines and animal health products.”

Strong sales of 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 29% to $3.4 billion.

That was enough for Merck to re-adjust its full-year sales and earnings expectations higher, after lowering them in the first quarter. Merck said it is now expects full-year adjusted per-share earnings of between $5.63 and $5.78 on revenue of between $47.2 billion and $48.7 billion.

Meantime, Merck said it has accelerated three Covid-19 related vaccine and antiviral research programs - part of its effort to help find a viable coronavirus vaccine that it kicked off in May.

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