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Merck Beats Forecasts on Lower Earnings

The company is about to lose its patent for a best-selling asthma drug


Merck (NYSE:MRK) announced on Friday that its second-quarter profit was $1.79 billion, down about 11% from $2.02 billion during the same period last year.

Sales for the quarter were $12.31 billion, edging up 1% from 2011. Adjusted EPS came in at $1.05. The results beat Wall Street, which had been looking for EPS of $1.01 on sales of $12.15 billion, CNBC noted.

Merck Could Have a Home Run in Sight
Merck Could Have a Home Run in Sight

The news sent Merck shares up more than 3% in early Friday morning trading.

The drugmaker reiterated previously issued earnings guidelines for the rest of the year, predicting profits of between $3.75 and $3.85 a share. In 2011, Merck generated full year earnings of $3.77 a share.

The patent for its asthma treatment Singulair — which recorded second-quarter sales of $1.43 billion — expires in August, opening the Merck to generic competition against its best-selling medication.

Company officials noted that a rising U.S. dollar was eroding international sales revenue. Subtracting the dollar’s recent rise, sales would have increased 5%.

In the last week, pharmaceutical makers Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) and AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) both reported lower second-quarter earnings compared to last year that still topped analysts estimates.

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