Compares with estimates
Oct 29 (Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc MRK.N reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday and raised its full-year earnings forecast as sales of its blockbuster immunotherapy, Keytruda, crossed the $3 billion mark for the first time in a single quarter.
Keytruda has driven much of Merck's recent growth, given its position as a mainstay treatment for newly diagnosed patients with advanced lung cancer, the most lucrative oncology market.
Sales of the therapy rose 62.5% to $3.07 billion, sweeping past estimates of $2.88 billion, according to five brokerages polled by Refinitiv.
Profit was also boosted by the company's line of vaccines for diseases, including chicken pox and measles, that brought in revenue of $2.5 billion, an increase of 17%.
Merck raised its 2019 adjusted earnings forecast to between $5.12 and $5.17 per share from a prior range of between $4.84 and $4.94 per share. Analysts were expecting $4.92 per share.
Net income fell to $1.90 billion, or 74 cents per share, in the third quarter from $1.95 billion, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Merck earned $1.51 per share, beating analysts' average estimates of $1.24.
Sales rose 14.9% to $12.40 billion, surging past analysts' estimates of $11.64 billion.
(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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