Profit of Merck (MRK) for 1 sq.m. 2022

A medicinal tablet with the Merck logo and the words “Molnupiravir” and “COVID-19” displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Poland November 5, 2021.

Jakub Pozhitsky | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Merck sold $3.2 billion of its oral antiviral treatment for Covid in the first quarter, boosting the company’s top line.

Merck significantly beat Wall Street’s earnings and earnings guidance on Thursday, reporting $2.14 a share on earnings of $15.9 billion. The company raised its 2022 earnings guidance to $7.24 to $7.36 per share on revenue of $56.9 billion to $58.1 billion. The company previously forecast earnings per share of $7.12 to $7.27 on revenue of $56.1 billion to $57.6 billion.

Merck shares rose about 3% in morning trading.

Here are Merck’s results compared to Wall Street’s expectations, based on average analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted earnings: $2.14 per share vs. $1.83 expected.
  • Income: $15.9 billion vs. $14.68 billion

Molnupiravir, Merck’s drug for Covid, has been selling well since the FDA approved the pill in December. This amounted to 20% of the company’s revenue for the first quarter. However, Merck has lowered its molnupiravir sales forecast for 2022 to $5-5.5 billion from its previous forecast of $5-6 billion. Merck shares profits from the pills equally with its partner Ridgeback Therapeutics.

Merck has shipped 6.4 million courses of molnupiravir worldwide, distributing it to about 500,000 patients, chief financial officer Caroline Litchfield told analysts during the company’s earnings call Thursday morning. Although the US has ordered 3.1 million courses of molnupiravir, the FDA has given preference to Pfizer’s Covid drug Paxlovid because of its higher efficacy and fewer safety concerns.

Overall, sales of pharmaceutical products increased by 50% to $14.1 billion compared to the first quarter of 2021. Sales of Keytruda, an antibody treatment used against several types of cancer, were $4.8 billion, up 23% from the same quarter last year. CEO Rob Davis said Keytruda is growing rapidly as a treatment for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer and as an adjuvant therapy to reduce the risk of disease recurrence.

Gardasil, Merck’s vaccine that prevents cancer from HPV, is up 59% to $1.46 billion from 2021. Litchfeld said demand remains significant in China, which has one of the highest HPV burdens in the world, despite Covid lockdowns in areas like Shanghai. Merck is building new facilities slated to open between 2023 and 2025 to boost vaccine supplies globally, Litchfeld said.

“This HPV cancer vaccine has reached only 9% of the world’s eligible population to date, so we have a long way to go to protect lives and drive Merck’s growth,” Lichfeld said..

CNBC Health & Science

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