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Merck Stock Gains As Covid, Keytruda Sales Help Q1 Earnings Beat, Profit Forecast Boost

“We successfully delivered across our key strategic priorities and achieved strong top- and bottom-line growth,” said CEO Robert Davis.

Updated at 9:36 am EST

Merck  (MRK) -  posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Thursday, while lifting its full-year profit guidance, as the drugmaker recorded impressive sales of its Covid and cancer treatments. 

Merck said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in March came in at $2.14 per share, up 84.4% from the same period last year and firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.83 per share. Group revenues, Merck said, rose 50% to $15.9 billion, easily beating the $14.7  billion tally forecast by analysts that cover the pharma giant.

Keytruda sales surged 23% from last year to $4.8 billion, Merck said. Sales of its Covid antiviral pill molnupiravir, which it developed with Ridgeback Theraputicis, saw sales of $3.2 billion.

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Looking into 2022, Merck said it sees full-year non-GAAP earnings in the range of $7.24 to $7.36 per share, up from its prior forecast of $7.12 to $7.27 per share, with revenues of molnupiravir of between $5 billion and $5.5 billion.

“We successfully delivered across our key strategic priorities and achieved strong top- and bottom-line growth,” said CEO Robert Davis. “Robust first quarter performance was driven by significant clinical advancements in our research pipeline and effective commercial execution across a broad set of key growth drivers."

"We remain focused on driving our strategy, which is led by science, and are confident in the durability of our growth prospects, as we continue to provide value for patients, shareholders and all stakeholders today and well into the future,” he added.  

Dow component Merck shares were marked 2.8% higher in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $86.77 each, extending the stock's year-to-date gain to around 13.1%.