Merck & Co
Its shares rose 1.7 percent as the drugmaker reported quarterly profit that matched Wall Street estimates.
The numbers look broadly speaking right in line, Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan said. Everything looks good and on track. People are going to be most interested in the 2010 guidance, but they're not going to give that yet.
Merck's commitment to its merger targets comes after Pfizer Inc
We stand firmly behind the financial targets we provided at the time of our initial merger announcement, Merck Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark said in a statement.
Fourth-quarter net income was $6.5 billion, or $2.35 per share, including about two months of results from Schering-Plough after the $41 billion merger closed in early November, and a big gain tied to that. A year ago, stand-alone Merck reported net income of $1.64 billion, or 78 cents per share.
Excluding deal-related and other special items, earnings were 79 cents per share, matching the analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue was $10.09 billion for the quarter, ahead of the analyst expectation of nearly $9.7 billion.
Revenue was very strong for the quarter, Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez said.
In combining with New Jersey-based neighbor Schering-Plough, Merck broadened its product portfolio, greatly bolstered its research pipeline and expects to achieve major cost savings to help it weather looming generic competition to its Singulair allergy medicine and other drugs.
Merck continues to target high single-digit compound annual growth rate in earnings per share, excluding items, from 2009 to 2013. The drugmaker said it expects to provide its 2010 outlook in April.
The drugmaker stood by its previous goal of $3.5 billion in annual cost savings in 2012 as it cuts 15 percent of jobs from the combined company. Merck had about 100,000 employees at the end of the year, and plans to slash about 2,500 vacant positions as part of the initial phase of the cost cuts.
Shares rose 63 cents to $37.55 in premarket trading.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Maureen Bavdek)