Merck Beats Expectations, Helped By Keytruda Sales

Merck's second-quarter sales and profit easily beat Wall Street expectations Thursday, boosted by sales growth of some of its key drugs.

Merck & Co. posted profit of $3.94 billion, or $1.87 per adjusted share, easily beating the $1.70 that analysts surveyed by data firm FactSet expected. Sales of $14.6 billion, 28% higher than a year ago, also topped expectations. Analysts expected sales of $13.9 billion.

As expected, sales of Merck's COVID-19 treatment Lageverio treatment fell to about $1.2 billion from $3.25 billion in the first quarter when it became Merck's second-biggest selling drug behind the cancer blockbuster Keytruda.

The treatment Paxlovid from rival drugmaker Pfizer was shown to be more effective in clinical trials than Lagevrio, which is not authorized for patients under age 18 because it might interfere with bone growth. The drug, which inserts tiny errors into the coronavirus’ genetic code, also isn’t recommended for pregnant women because of the potential for birth defects.

Excluding the drop in Lagevrio revenue, Merck reported sales growth of 18%, helped by sales of Keytruda, which grew 26% to $5.3 billion, and Gardisil, which saw sales growth of 36% to $1.7 billion.

The drugmaker, based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, raised its full year sales outlook to between $57.5 billion and $58.5 billion.