Merck 1Q earnings beat expectations

Earnings HQ: FBN's Ashley Webster breaks down Merck's first-quarter earnings report.

Merck Raises Quarterly Earnings Outlook

Features Dow Jones Newswires

Merck & Co. raised its earnings guidance for the year on Tuesday, despite the negative impact of the stronger dollar, as its first-quarter results declined less than expected.

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Shares rose 4.2% in premarket trading.

The pharmaceutical giant now expects per-share earnings of $3.35 to $3.48 a share, up from its previous range of $3.32 to $3.47 a share.

Merck, like some of its rivals, said a strengthening U.S. dollar and increased generic competition sapped results in the most recent period. In response, the company has sought to develop drugs in rapidly developing fields.

Pharmaceuticals, the company's biggest revenue contributor, posted a 2% decline in sales to $8.27 billion. The animal health division posted 2% growth, however, to $829 million.

Sales of arthritis drug Remicade were down 17% to $501 million, and sales of cholesterol treatment Zetia/Vytorin slipped 9% to $887 million. However, sales of diabetes treatment Januvia edged up 4% to $1.39 billion.

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In all, Merck reported earnings of $953 million, or 33 cents a share, down from $1.71 billion, or 57 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter saw a 5% negative impact from foreign exchange, and a 9% impact from the divestiture of its consumer care business, though this was partly offset by the acquisition of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Excluding certain items, per-share earnings fell to 85 cents from 88 cents.

Sales fell to $9.43 billion from $10.26 billion the year before.

Analysts had projected 75 cents a share in earnings and $9.07 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

Write to Angela Chen at angela.chen@dowjones.com