Merck (NYSE: MRK) posted second-quarter results today that missed the consensus forecast on Wall Street, though the company expects up to 14% sales growth this year.
The Kenilworth, N.J.–based pharmaceutical giant reported profits of $1.213 billion, or 48¢, off $11.402 billion in sales, nearly halving its bottom line while boosting sales 19% from Q2 2020. Merck adjusted earnings and revenue to take into account its June 2021 spinoff of Organon, which brought Merck a $9 billion windfall.
Adjusted to exclude one-time items, earnings per share were $1.31, 13¢ behind The Street, where analysts looked for EPS of $1.44 on sales of $11.54 billion.
“We are encouraged by the strong momentum of our underlying business led by our key growth drivers as the impact of the pandemic on our performance lessens,” said Merck CEO Rob Davis said in a news release. “We are confident that we will deliver sustained long-term growth and value creation enabled by our strengthening discovery research engine and by working with increased speed, urgency and agility to accelerate the delivery of our innovations to the patients who depend on them.”
Merck now expects sales growth of 12–14% in 2021, with full-year 2021 revenue between $46.4 billion and $47.4 billion. The company projects adjusted EPS between $5.47 and $5.57.
While the company hasn’t profited as much from COVID-19 therapies as companies such as Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) and Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN), it is seeing a rebound in immunotherapy and non-COVID-19 vaccine sales such as Gardasil, a human Papillomavirus 9-valent vaccine. Keytruda sales rose 23% to $4.2 billion while Gardasil sales in the quarter grew 88% to $1.2 billion.
While the company does not have a COVID-19 vaccine, it is developing molnupiravir (MK-4482), an oral antiviral candidate to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19. In January, it discontinued work on COVID-19 vaccine candidates while halting work on another investigational COVID-19 antiviral known as MK-7110.
MRK shares were down nearly –1.4% to $76.96 apiece in late afternoon trading today.