Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Posts Disappointing 4Q Earnings

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Posts Disappointing 4Q Earnings

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s fourth quarter earnings were a major disappointment to investors. One of the last major pharmaceutical companies to report this earnings season, the drugmaker reported 4Q 2013 earnings were off 14% due to weak sales and reorganization expenses.

Earnings report details

The pharma giant reported a profit of $781 million, or 26 cents a share, in the fourth quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s profit decreased from $908 million, 30 cents a share, in the prior year. Excluding acquisition- and restructuring-related expenses, adjusted earnings increased by a nickel to 88 cents. Total revenue dropped by 3.4% to $11.32 billion.

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Analyst consensus was for a profit of 89 cents and total revenues of $11.36 billion.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s asthma treatment Singulair, which lost patent protection 18 months ago, saw sales decrease 38% to $298 million, after a more than $260 million drop in sales over the previous four quarters. Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia sales also decreased by 1% to $1.12 billion.

Merck forward guidance

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) offered forward guidance for per-share earnings in a range from $3.35 to $3.53 and revenue of $42.4 billion to $43.2 billion for 2014. Analyst consensus was for a per-share profit of $3.48 and total revenues of $43.35 billion.

The drugmaker also announced they anticipate that 2014 adjusted marketing, administrative and R&D expenses to be below 2013 costs because of prioritization of R&D and more focused spending on core product lines and launches.

CEO Kenneth Frazier in October said in an interview back in October of last year that the company would consider spinning off or selling certain products and businesses, including their animal-health and consumer-health businesses.

Three new clinical trial collaborations

The company also announced it is involved in three separate collaboration agreements for clinical trials testing the promising MK-3475 immunotherapy cancer treatment, part of a new class of immunotherapies that target cancer cells. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) will collaborate on studies of MK-3475 in combination with therapies from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ:INCY).

The pharma industry titan’s head of R&D, Roger M. Perlmutter, also said Merck is investigating MK-3475’s activity against many cancers, both as a standalone and a combination treatment. “These new collaborations with Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ:INCY) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) underscore our shared determination to evaluate treatment regimens with the potential to provide meaningful benefits to patients suffering from cancer,” Perlmutter elaborated. He also mentioned that the company is investigating the compound as a possible treatment for up to 20 other cancers.

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