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Merck's 2Q earnings beat Street with sales turbocharged by cancer drug Keytruda

Drug giant raised its full-year guidance to a range of US$4.22 and US$4.30 a share compared with US$4.16 to US$4.28 a share expected last quarter
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Sales of Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda increased 89% to $1.67bn during the quarter

Merck & Co. Inc (NYSE:MRK) reported second quarter earnings Friday that topped Wall Street estimates on strong sales of its cancer drug Keytruda which is battling with rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s (NYSE:BMY) blockbuster cancer drug Opdivo.

The pharmaceutical giant reported earnings of US$1.06 per share on revenue of US$10.5bn. It handily beat consensus earnings estimates of US$1.03 per share on revenue of US$10.4bn. Revenue grew 5.4% on a year-over-year basis.

All eyes were on sales of Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda which increased 89% to $1.67bn during the quarter compared with US$881mln a year ago.

READ: Bristol-Myers Squibb's 2Q earnings beat Street on healthy sales of its blockbuster cancer drug Opdivo

Shares in Merck traded flat, slightly down to US$63.84 in premarket trade.

“Strong commercial execution globally for Keytruda, Gardasil, Bridion and other products led the company to deliver growth in the second quarter,” said Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier. “We continue to solidify our leadership in immuno-oncology and, along with our other key pillars of growth including Animal Health, we are confident in the strength of our business.”

The company said its research and development expenses increased 28% to US$2.3bn. Most of the increases came from a charge of US$344mln related to the acquisition of Australian biotechnology company Viralytics Ltd.

The company said it expects 2018 earnings of US$4.22 to US$4.30 per share on revenue of US$42bn to US$42.8bn. The company's previous guidance was earnings of US$4.16 to US$4.28 per share on revenue of US$41.8bn to US$43bn. The current consensus earnings estimate is a more conservative US$4.22 per share on revenue of US$42.17bn for the year ending December 31, 2018.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]
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