Merck & Co. Inc.shares could rise to $70 by 2010 if the drugmaker continues to deliver on its promise of double-digit earnings growth, Barron's said in its October 29 edition.

Merck's earnings could hit $4 per share by 2010, the magazine said. It added that Morgan Stanley analyst Jami Rubin, who rates Merck shares overweight, thinks it might reach that level a year sooner.

Applying its current multiple of 17.5 times prospective earnings to $4 a share would put the stock at $70, a 23 percent premium to its current share price of about $57, the magazine said.

What investors massively underestimated was the value of the new pipeline set against an expense base coming down, Barron's cited Rubin as saying.