Soaring sales of its cancer blockbuster and vaccines helped drive Merck’s second-quarter profit up a whopping 54%, blowing past Wall Street expectations and cheering investors.
The maker of cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda and diabetes pill Januvia also benefited from reduced spending on research and restructuring.
Kenilworth, New Jersey -based Merck on Tuesday raised its revenue forecast for the year, but reduced its earnings per share forecast due to a charge for the just-closed acquisition of Peloton Therapeutics, one of three recent purchases of companies developing drugs for cancer and other conditions.
In premarket trading, Merck shares jumped $2.53, or 3.1%, to $85.02.
The drugmaker reported a profit of $2.67 billion, or $1.03 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time costs, were $1.30 per share, or 14 cents better than anticipated, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
Merck posted revenue of $11.76 billion in the quarter, up 12%.
Keytruda sales jumped 58% to $2.63 billion, as the biologic drug continues to rack up approvals to treat many types of cancer, most recently for patients with advanced small cell lung cancer who’ve failed other treatments, and as initial treatment for advanced head and neck cancer.
Merck’s Gardasil vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus had sales rise 46% to $886 million, and several other vaccines saw higher sales.
Former top sellers Januvia and Janumet, pills for Type 2 diabetes, saw sales decline 4% and 9% respectively amid heavy pressure for low prices in the ultracompetitive diabetes field.
Sales of veterinary medicines such as flea-and-tick killer Bravecto increased 3% to $1.12 billion.
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