Pharma Stock to Watch: Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK)

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Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) stock rose over 0.4% on 30th April, 2021 pre-market session after the company posted decent results for the first quarter of FY 21. The company for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), has got the approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in combination with platinum- and fluropyrimidine-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) (tumors with epicenter 1 to 5 centimeters above the GEJ) carcinoma that is not amenable to surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, based on results from the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-590 trial.

Keytruda sales rose 18.7% to $3.90 billion, but missed analysts’ estimates of $3.98 billion. The sales of Bristol Myers Squibb Co’s rival drug Opdivo fell 3% in the quarter and also missed analyst estimates. The sales of Pneumovax to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and other infections caused by similar bacteria plunged 33%. The sales of Gardasil, a vaccine to prevent cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, fell 16.4% to $917 million in the quarter, on the back lower demand in the United States, Europe and China. The company also saw a decline in the use of its vaccines and missed routine vaccinations during the pandemic, driven by government recommendations to avoid other shots in close proximity to getting the COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, the increase in COVID-19 cases in the quarter took a particularly heavy toll on Merck’s sales as about two-thirds of its products are hospital administered, and a lack of routine health checkups likely led to lower detection of other diseases. The company anticipates bigger hit to sales this year than previously expected due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases that has hurt demand for drugs that need to be given by doctors.

For fiscal 2021, the company expects sales to be between $51.8 billion and $53.8 billion, which means sales growth in the range of 8% to 12%. Assuming the Completion of the Organon Spinoff, the company expects full-year 2021 sales from continuing operations to be Between $45.8 Billion and $47.8 Billion. The company expects 2021 Non-GAAP EPS to be in the range of $6.48 and $6.68

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