Merck & Co said on Thursday it raised its quarterly dividend by 11 percent, or 4 cents a share, to 42 cents a share, and said it expects sales next year to be at or near the 2011 level.

In a statement coinciding with the company's annual investor meeting, the company said it is confident that we are taking the right steps to ensure that Merck is generating profitable sales growth to drive improved returns and even greater cash flow than we do today.

In slides accompanying the meeting, the company said it expects to seek approval for eight new drug applications in 2012 and 2013.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)