Drugmaker Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) today unveiled an accelerated share buyback program worth $5 billion. The country’s second largest pharmaceutical company said it has reached a deal to buy 99.5 million of its own shares from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. at current market prices. The repurchase is a part of Merck & Co. Inc.’s previously announced $15 billion buyback program. The drugmaker expects to complete this transaction by November end.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is facing stiff competition from generic drugs. After reporting an 8.3 percent decline in its first quarter earnings, the company lowered its full year forecast. At the same time, it also announced a $15 billion share buyback program to appease investors. Analysts consider it a good move as Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s share prices have fallen 22 percent in the past six years.
Last week, the company sold bonds to partially finance the share buyback program which is estimated to reach $7.5 billion, including today’s announcement of $5 billion buyback.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement that the accelerated share buyback program demonstrates the company’s commitment to delivering shareholder value in the short-term, and keep investing in opportunities that will drive long-term growth.
Merck’s Important Drugs Go Off Patent
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) started struggling after the patents on its asthma drug Singulair expired in August, causing a herd of generic companies to enter the market. Sales of Singulair declined 75 percent in the first quarter to $337 million. It was once a blockbuster drug generating about $6 billion in annual revenues for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) before cheap generic copycats flooded the market in August last year.
Adding to the company’s worry, its migraine drug Maxalt recently went off patent, and soon the brain cancer medicine Temodar will also have to compete with generic companies. The company is in various stages to seek marketing approval for some new drugs that the company expects will offset declining sales of Temodar, Maxalt and Singulair.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) shares soared 1.12 percent to $47.87 at 11:28 AM EDT.