Merck Posts Mixed 3Q Results as Generic Competition Continues

Drug maker Merck (NYSE:MRK) posted a bottom-line beat on Monday but weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales amid generic competition deriving from patent expirations.

The company also narrowed its non-GAAP earnings per share view for the full year to $3.48 to $3.53 from $3.45 to $3.55, versus the consensus view of $3.47 a share.

“At current exchange rates, Merck continues to anticipate full-year 2013 sales to be approximately 5% to 6% below prior year levels with foreign exchange accounting for approximately 2.5 percentage points of the decline,” Merck said in a statement.

Revenue in its most recent quarter slumped 4% to $11.03 billion from $11.4 billion a year ago, missing the Street’s view of $11.12 billion.

The declines were led by a 53% decrease in Singulair, Merck’s blockbuster asthma treatment whose patent expired in 2012, as well as a slowdown in emerging markets, which now constitute 20% of its global pharmaceutical sales.

Weak sales in some categories were partially offset by gains in its HPV vaccine Gardasil as well as better- managed expenses.

The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based drug company reported net income of $1.12 billion, or 38 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.7 billion, or 56 cents.

Excluding special one-time items, Merck said it earned 92 cents, topping average analyst estimates of 88 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.

"This quarter we delivered solid financial results, with strong contributions from our vaccine, immunology and HIV businesses, and effective cost management," Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement.

Shares of Merck were down about 2.2% to $45.50 in early trade.