Merck (NYSE:MRK) is one of the world's biggest drugmakers and is a staple in dividend investors' portfolios.

That's because pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) offer investors a steady (and predictable) stream of dividend-boosting revenue. But investors are right to wonder if Merck's dividend can continue after the patent cliff shaved billions off the company's top line over the past few years.

In the following slideshow you'll see whether I believe Merck's dividend is safe and gain insight into how Merck compares to its industry peers.