Merck raises annual profit outlook as Keytruda drives profit beat

FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen on a sign at the Merck & Co campus in Linden, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid//File Photo

(Reuters) – Merck & Co Inc MRK.N posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday and raised its full-year earnings forecast, driven by resilient demand for its blockbuster cancer therapy Keytruda during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The drugmaker’s revenue took a hit at the height of the pandemic as patients avoided hospital visits, denting sales of vaccines, physician-administered drugs and animal health products.

The company said it had taken the majority of the blow in the second quarter.

Merck said it now expects full-year adjusted profit of between $5.91 and $6.01 per share, compared with its prior forecast of between $5.63 to $5.78 per share.

For 2020, Merck now expects an unfavorable impact to revenue of about $2.35 billion due to the pandemic, up from $1.95 billion it had initially estimated.

Excluding items, Merck earned $1.74 per share, beating analysts’ average estimates of $1.44 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

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