Drugmaker Merck & Co.'s fourth-quarter profit skyrocketed to $7.32 billion, skewed by an $11.2 billion gain from selling its consumer care business to Germany's Bayer AG.
Merck, the maker of blockbuster diabetes pill Januvia edged past Wall Street expectations, despite hits to revenue from multiple divestitures, patent expirations and the strong dollar, but its forecast for 2015 came in below Wall Street expectations.
Merck, the world's fourth-biggest drugmaker by revenue, predicted adjusted profit of $3.32 to $3.47 per share in 2015, well below the $3.50 analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting. Merck said it expects full-year revenue in the range of $38.3 billion to $39.8 billion, while analysts were anticipating $40.46 billion.
The drugmaker is in the midst of yet another restructuring, this one including not just staff cuts and site closures to save money, but jettisoning the $1.9 billion-a-year consumer health business that sells Claritin allergy pills and Coppertone skin care items.
The Kenilworth, New Jersey-based company said its fourth-quarter profit amounted $2.54 per share. Excluding a total of $4.81 billion in one-time charges for restructuring, acquisitions, divestitures and other items, adjusted profit was $2.5 billion, or 87 cents per share.
Merck posted revenue of $10.48 billion in the quarter, down 7.4 percent from $11.32 billion a year earlier but just above analysts' forecasts for $10.47 billion.
Sales were led by Januvia and related pill Janumet, up 2 percent to $1.65 billion. But sales of several other top products all fell by 10 percent: immune disorder injection Remicade, HPV vaccine Gardasil and cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin.
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