Merck's 2Q Earnings, Sales Impress the Street

Merck (NYSE:MRK) disclosed an 11% contraction in second-quarter earnings on Friday due to year-earlier tax gains, but the drug giant’s adjusted-earnings and sales both topped forecasts from analysts.

Shares of the second-largest U.S. pharmaceutical company edged up 3% in response to the stronger-than-expected results and reaffirmed full-year guidance.

Merck said it earned $1.82 billion, or 58 cents a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $2.05 billion, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.05 a share, up from 95 cents a share a year earlier and beating the Street’s view of $1.01.

Revenue inched up 1% to $12.31 billion, surpassing consensus calls from analysts for $12.15 billion. Excluding foreign-exchange fluctuations, sales were up 5%.

“We achieved top- and bottom-line growth by advancing our core strategy and maintaining momentum across our businesses," CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement.

Merck’s results were boosted by a 6% increase in sales for asthma drug Singulair to $1.43 billion and a 36% leap in revenue for diabetes treatment Januvia to $1.06 billion.

The blue-chip company also posted an 8% jump in animal health sales to $865 million and a 2% rise in consumer-care drugs to $552 million.

Looking ahead, Merck reaffirmed its forecast for full-year non-GAAP EPS of $3.75 to $3.85, the midpoint of which would narrowly trail the Street’s view of $3.82. Sales are expected to be “at or near” 2011 levels on a constant currency basis, but decline more than 3% at current exchange rates.

Merck said it expects six major filings over the next 18 months, including for insomnia drug suvorexant and osteoporosis treatment obanacatib.

Shares of Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck were recently up 2.4% to $44.59, leaving them more than 16% on the year.