Merck reports Q3 earnings increase of 60-plus percent

TRENTON, N.J. Merck & Co.’s worth has soared.

The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based drugmaker reported Monday it experienced a 62 percent increase in its third-quarter earnings, and its revenues increased by double digits. The company also said it amplified its full-year earnings forecast.

The company, best known for developing and marketing osteoporosis treatment Fosamax and asthma and allergy medicine Singulair, reported that its net income totaled $1.53 billion, or 70 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. The company earned $940.6 million, or 43 cents per share during the same period last year.

Revenues totaled $6.07 billion, up 12 percent from $5.4 billion a year ago.

Excluding a charge for an acquisition and a gain from a patent settlement, net income would have been 75 cents per share.

For the first nine months of the year, net income rose to $4.9 billion, or $2.24 per share, up 24 percent from $3.96 billion, or $1.81 per share, one year earlier. “Our third-quarter results reflect the continued progress Merck is making to deliver on our strategy,” chief executive officer Richard Clarke said in a statement.

Merck’s next step is marketing its experimental HIV drug, Isentress, the first in a class called integrase inhibitors that block the AIDS virus from infecting cells. The drug received FDA approval earlier this month.

Because of the successes, the company raised its 2007 earnings forecast to a range of $3.08 to $3.14 per share, excluding 21 cents worth of charges for plant closures and position eliminations under its ongoing restructuring program, from an earlier projection of $3 to $3.10 per share.

On the other hand, analysts said, Merck’s forecast may not be as rosy as expected. The company’s Vioxx painkiller, which was pulled from the market three years ago, continues to cause the company to reserve its profits for legal expenses. The company reportedly reserved a total of $1.9 billion, since Merck currently faces about 26,600 lawsuits representing 47,000 plaintiffs, and about 265 potential class action cases.

Login or Register to post a comment.