Additionally, the company announced that chairman & CEO Kenneth C. Frazier will retire, effective June 30, 2021, and he will continue to serve on Merck’s board of directors as executive chairman for a transition period to be determined by the board.
Robert M. Davis, currently Merck’s executive VP of global services & CFO, has been unanimously elected by the board to assume the role of CEO, effective July 1, 2021. He will become president of Merck, effective April 1, 2021.
“The board and I are delighted that Rob will serve as Merck’s next CEO,” Frazier said in a news release. “He has deep knowledge of our company and industry and has been a valued strategic thought partner to me and the Merck senior management team as well as a highly capable finance leader.
“Rob has been instrumental in helping Merck take the right actions to adapt to the changing healthcare environment while remaining committed to investing in the scientific innovation that we expect will drive our future growth.”
For the fourth quarter, the Kenilworth, N.J.-based company posted losses of -$2.1 billion, or -83¢ per share, on sales of $12.5 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020, for a bottom-line slide into the red despite sales growth of 5.4%.
Adjusted to exclude one-time items, earnings per share were $1.32, 6¢ behind Wall Street, where analysts were looking for sales of $12.7 billion.
“Despite extraordinary challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Merck achieved solid growth and made meaningful progress in our pipeline in 2020. We remain focused on our science-led strategy and are confident that this approach will continue to deliver value to patients and shareholders,” Frazier said in the company’s earnings report. “Our scientists continue to advance our internal pipeline of promising medicines and vaccines, including in oncology, HIV, and pneumococcal disease, and, more recently, therapeutics for COVID-19.
“These pipeline developments provide us with increasing line-of-sight to significant potential growth drivers later this decade and into the next.”
Merck said it now expects to log adjusted EPS of $6.48 to $6.68 for the full year of 2021 and set its sales guidance for between $51.8 billion and $53.8 billion.
MRK shares were down -1.9% at $75.86 per share in late-day trading. MassDevice’s MedTech 100 Index — which includes stocks of the world’s largest medical device companies — was up 1.9%.