Stocksak: Merck raises annual forecasts after profit beats estimates and sales.

© Stocksak. FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck & Co campus in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Michael Erman

(Stocksak) -Merck & Co on Thursday posted better-than-expected sales and profit in the third quarter on a strong performance by its blockbuster cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda and human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil.

Premarket trading saw shares rise by 2.6%. The drugmaker also raised its annual profit and sales forecasts despite the negative effects of weakening euro and pound.

Keytruda sales increased by 20% to $5.4 Billion, according to analysts’ estimates. Gardasil sales rose 15%, to $2.3 billion. This exceeded expectations by more than $200 millions.

The company reported a profit of $4.7Billion, or $1.85 per share, excluding certain items. This compares to $4.5 billion or $1.78 per shares a year ago. Analysts expected earnings of $1.71 per share.

Wells Fargo (NYSE:) Analyst Mohit Bansal stated in a note Gardasil’s higher-than-expected growth “reflects growing global demand and possibly a normalization of COVID trends within the U.S.”

The company also reported slightly higher than expected sales of its COVID-19 antiviral drug Lagevrio (“molnupiravir”) Ridgeback Biotherapeutics was the partner in developing the drug. The company also shares profits.

However, analysts’ estimates for Merck’s animal-health business missed by Evan Seigerman, BMO Capital Markets analyst Evan Seigerman, who said that it was “the only concern” but added that it had been following significant growth in the pandemic.

Merck now expects full year sales between $58.5 billion – $59 billion. This is an increase over its previous range of $57.5 to $58.5 million. It expects full-year profits in the range $7.32-7.37 per share.

Refinitiv estimates that third-quarter sales rose 14% to $15 Billion, surpassing a $14.1 billion estimate.

Merck announced Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Rob Davis will assume the additional role as chairman starting Dec. 1, replacing incumbent Ken Frazier.

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