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Merck Issues Weak Forecast As Q4 Revenue Falls Short

From Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) early Thursday posted mixed fourth quarter earnings and provided a tepid outlook, as it suffers through multiple patent expirations of key medications.

The Kenilworth, NJ-based pharmaceutical giant reported adjusted Q4 EPS of $0.89, which was in-line with the Wall Street consensus estimate of $0.89. Revenues fell 1% from last year to $10.12 billion, falling short of analysts’ $10.23 billion view.

Merck noted that fourth quarter pharmaceutical sales, which represent the bulk of its business, declined 1% to $8.9 billion. The downturn was driven by the loss of U.S. market exclusivity in 2016 for a handful of key drugs, along with greater competition in Europe for certain treatments.

Looking ahead, MRK forecast adjusted full-year 2017 EPS of $3.72 to $3.87, which could miss Wall Street’s current estimate of $3.87. 2017 revenues were forecast ranging from $38.6 to $40.1 billion, also below analysts’ $40.19 view.

The company commented via press release:

“The performance of Merck’s broad and balanced portfolio allows us to remain committed to biomedical innovation that saves and improves lives and delivers long-term value to shareholders,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “The momentum behind our pipeline and key product launches, including the continued growth and expansion of KEYTRUDA into new indications and markets around the world, further reinforces our company’s strategic direction.”

Despite the seemingly lackluster outlook, Merck & Co., Inc. shares were unchanged in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, MRK has gained 5.49%, versus a 1.83% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

MRK currently has a POWR Rating of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #1 of 134 stocks in the Medical – Pharmaceuticals category.

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