Digging a little deeper on an individual basis, a couple of Merck's drugs are doing quite well. Diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet combined for a 43% increase in the face of new competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb
Sales of cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin were only up 6%, but that's about as big a win as Januvia and Janumet's double-digit increase. Sales for the first two drugs have been falling since their efficacy was called into question -- they were still down 7.5% on the year -- so investors should be happy about the turnaround.
On the bottom of the profit-loss statement, Merck's adjusted net income was actually up year over year, but because it used shares to purchase Schering-Plough, the earnings were divided among a bigger pie and dropped year over year on a per-share basis.
Merck seems to have decided not to blow its free pass and is holding off until the end of the first quarter to give guidance for the year. In the company's defense, there are a couple of pending items that could affect earnings this year. There's still the potential for (re)integrating its animal health business with sanofi-aventis
Not following in Pfizer's
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Johnson & Johnson's stock. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.