Merck shares pop premarket after earnings beat as COVID antiviral sales top $3 billion

Merck & Co. Inc. shares rose 1.9% in premarket trade Thursday, after the drug company topped estimates for the first quarter, buoyed by more than $3 billion in sales of its COVID-19 antiviral. The company posted net income of $4.310 billion, or $1.70 a share, for the quarter, up from $2.745 billion, or $1.08 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $2.14, ahead of the $1.83 FactSet consensus. Sales rose 50% to $15.901 billion from $10.627 billion, also ahead of the $14.556 billion FactSet consensus. Sales of Lagevrio, the brand name for Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir, came to $3.2 billion. Excluding those, sales grew 19%. Sales of cancer drug Keytruda rose 23% to $4.8 billion, while sales of HPV vaccine Gardasil and Gardasil 9 grew 59% to $1.5 billion. Merck is expecting full-year sales of $56.9 billion to $58.1 billion, compared with a FactSet consensus of $57.2 billion. It expects adjusted EPS of $7.24 to $7.36, compared with a FactSet consensus of $7.28. Shares have gained 10% in the year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average

has fallen 8%.