Merck & Co. Inc. reported Thursday fourth-quarter earnings that rose to $1.18 billion, or 42 cents a share, from $976 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, the health care giant said adjusted earnings per share came to 89 cents, matching the FactSet consensus. Revenue slipped 1% to $10.12 billion from $10.22 billion, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $10.23 billion. Pharmaceutical sales declined 1% to $8.90 billion, while animal health revenue rose 6% to $884 million. For 2017, Merck expects adjusted EPS of $3.72 to $3.87, surrounding the FactSet consensus of $3.83, while revenue is expected $38.6 billion to $40.1 billion, compared with the FactSet consensus of $40.13 billion. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has rallied 23% over the past 12 months, while the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF has gained 8.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has run up 23%.
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