Monday, April 20th21.7°C
25631
24949

Drugmaker Merck's 1Q profit up 7 pct. as costs cuts offset sales drop from generic competition

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. - Major cost cuts enabled drugmaker Merck & Co. to offset lower first-quarter sales as generic competition continues to hurt sales of former blockbuster medicines. Merck's profit rose 7 per cent, trouncing Wall Street expectations.

Merck said it plans to rely on its pipeline of experimental drugs for future sales. That would make it an exception to the trend among many other drugmakers, which are pursuing big acquisitions to keep sales growing.

The maker of the diabetes pill Januvia said Tuesday that net income was $1.71 billion, or 57 cents per share, up from $1.59 billion, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding $896 million in restructuring and acquisition charges, net income was $2.6 billion, or 88 cents per share — 9 cents better than analysts expected.

In mid-afternoon trading, Merck's shares rose $1.71, or 3 per cent, to $58.40.

Revenue totalled $10.26 billion, down 4 per cent and just below the $10.44 billion analysts expected.

Pharmaceutical sales dropped 5 per cent, to $8.45 billion, as cheaper generic copycat pills hammered several off-patent drugs that once brought in billions each year: asthma and allergy pill Singulair, allergy spray Nasonex and blood pressure drugs Cozaar and Hyzaar.

Merck's top sellers, Type 2 diabetes pills Januvia and Janumet, brought in a combined $1.33 billion, up 3 per cent. Sales jumped 10 per cent to $604 million for immune disorder drug Remicade, and also rose for HIV drug Isentress and several other products.

Lower sales of nonprescription Claritin allergy pills dragged down consumer health sales 4 per cent to $454 million. Sales of veterinary medicines declined 3 per cent to $813 million.

Analysts were surprised by the level of cost cuts: 8 per cent for administration and marketing expenses and 17 per cent for research spending as new research head Roger Perlmutter continues to cut Merck's least-promising programs. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., reduced its global workforce by 2,000 in the quarter, to 74,000.

"It is a necessary but not sufficient part of their execution strategy," Edward Jones analyst Judson Clark said of the cuts. He said Merck also must get key drugs in its pipeline approved to do well.

CEO Kenneth Frazier told analysts during a conference call that Merck has promising experimental drugs in testing for hepatitis C, HIV and various cancers.

"We're excited by our pipeline and what's to come," he said.

Meanwhile, Merck's two tablets for gradually reducing seasonal allergies to grass and ragweed were recently approved. Because patients must start the daily immunotherapy tablets a few months before allergy season begins, Merck said it's now promoting Ragwitek to doctors but it's too late to promote Grasstek this year.

With the recent spurt of proposed acquisitions and asset swaps in the pharmaceutical industry, analysts asked if Merck would do such a deal. Frazier said small deals might be possible, but he's focused on growth through new drugs for unmet medical needs.

"Our preferred (growth) route is through innovation rather than consolidation," he said.

Merck reaffirmed its 2014 forecast for profit of $2.15 to $2.47 per share, prompting analysts to ask why it didn't raise its forecast. Merck said that's because Venezuela may devalue its currency, which would decrease the value of sales there.

"Anytime you see a nine-cent beat, you'd like to see guidance walk up," so Merck may expect a slightly softer second quarter, Clark said.

___

Follow Linda A. Johnson at www.twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

25790


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX15412.60+52.05
S&P CDNX703.65+0.80
DJIA18034.93+208.63
Nasdaq4994.60+62.79
S&P 5002100.40+19.22
CDN Dollar0.8166-0.0011
Gold1193.20-0.30
Oil56.18-0.20
Lumber247.70-0.70
Natural Gas2.543+0.007

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.115-0.005
Knighthawk0.010.00
QHR Technologies Inc1.42+0.02
Cantex0.035+0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.385+0.055
Metalex Ventures0.085+0.010
Russel Metals27.42-0.06
Copper Mountain Mining1.10-0.03
Colorado Resources0.11+0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.005+0.001
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.04+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.185+0.010
Decisive Dividend Corporation1.80+0.15

 





FEATURED Property
22535934835 Paradise Valley Drive
2 bedrooms 1 baths
$159,900
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Calling on your help!

Has the internet flattened prices as predicted? Has the internet created opportunities for your business to find higher priced markets further afield? Is posting prices on your website a good thing o...


Living with Plan B

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit Photo: Thinkstock.comHuman beings are optimists by nature. Whether...


Reverse mortgage solution

With the housing and financial markets on solid footing, some retired Canadians may consider cashing in their growing assets to enjoy vacations and major home renovations. Others, on the other hand, a...

_



25221




Member of BC Press Council


25692