(By Balachander) Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) posted quarterly earnings that topped market expectations, spurred by double-digits sales growth of some of its top drugs and improvement in margins, and the health care giant maintained its full-year guidance. Shares jumped 3.74 percent in premarket trading on Friday.
On a non-GAAP basis, earnings per share (EPS) increased 10.5 percent to $1.05, beating Wall Street view of $1.01 a share. GAAP EPS fell 11 percent to 58 cents.
Sales gained 1.3 percent to $12.31 billion, beating analysts' expectations of flat sales. Excluding foreign exchange, top-line grew 5 percent.
Gross margin improved to 66.6 percent from 64.7 percent in the second quarter of the previous year.
Sales of diabetes drug Januvia soared 36 percent to $1.06 billion. Sales of Gardasil, Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine, jumped 17 percent. Sales of Janumet, Victrelis, Isentress and Zostavax also grew in double digits.
Meanwhile, combined sales of Remicade and Simponi, treatments for inflammatory diseases, tumbled 35 percent. Last year, Merck transferred exclusive marketing rights for Remicade and Simponi to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in Canada, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Looking ahead for the full year, Merck continues to forecast non-GAAP EPS in the range of $3.75 to $3.85 on revenue to be at or near 2011 levels on a constant currency basis. Analysts expect EPS of $3.82 on revenue of $47.21 billion.
The company also expects six major filings over the next 18 months, including suvorexant for insomnia and odanacatib for osteoporosis.
The stock, which has been trading between $29.47 and $44.37 over the past year, ended Thursday's regular trading at $43.33.