One way to escape the general stock market malaise that has occurred this week is to raise your earning guidance. Pharmaceutical powerhouse Merck
The guidance was light on details, but adjusted earnings for the first quarter are expected to come in at $0.65 a share at the midpoint, and EPS estimates for the full year were upped a nickel at the midpoint to $2.60.
Merck releases its first-quarter financial results in April, and it will be interesting to hear the assumptions that went into these EPS calculations. Merck was handed a big coup this week when Novartis
The only new drug on the block for Merck, its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, has been getting lots of free press today after the Centers for Disease Control posted a report estimating that one in four women aged 14 to 59 are infected with the virus. The drug also got a boost earlier in the month when Texas mandated that schoolgirls be vaccinated with the drug.
Notwithstanding the introduction of a generic version of blockbuster osteoporosis drug Fosamax in 2008, Merck's future is bright. Its novel diabetes treatment Januvia got off to a fast start last quarter, bringing in $42 million in sales, and Gardasil sales were $155 million in the quarter, 120% higher sequentially even before these positive developments. After the big Vioxx stumble of 2004, Merck finally appears to be back to its old self again, pumping out blockbuster drugs.
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