Merck, Novartis boost key drug sales

There's lots of earnings announcements today, so there's no time to look at footnotes yet. But we'll peruse the fine print in time for tomorrow's edition. In the meantime, here are the key figures for your reading pleasure. The headliners today include Merck, Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, and Schering-Plough.

  • Merck posted better-than-expected profits, aided by a.) strong sales of its diabetes meds and HIV treatments; b.) a one-time $1.7 billion gain on the sale of its animal health business Merial; and c.) cost-cutting, particularly in marketing-and-administrative. Profits came in at $3.42 billion on a 2 percent growth in sales to $6.05 billion. Release | Article

  • Novartis boosted its full-year sales forecast, buoyed by rising sales of cancer treatment Gleevec, plus new meds for eye disease (Lucentis), brittle bones (Reclast), and high blood pressure (Exforge). Recently introduced products accounted for $1.3 billion in Q3 net sales. Net income came in at $2.1 billion on $11 billion in sales; analysts said things are "falling into place" at the company. Release | Coverage

  • BMS beat estimates, reporting $966 million in net income, down from $2.58 billion a year ago (which included a one-time gain on the sale of Convatec). Revenues grew by a respectable 4 percent to $5.49 billion, on growing sales of clotbuster Plavix and antipsychotic Abilify, which recently got a new indication as an add-on antidepressant. Cost-cutting helped boost profits. Release | Report

  • Schering-Plough reported lower revenues and lower profits, suffering at least in part on currency effects as a big chunk of its business lies outside the U.S. Net income amounted to $477 million, down from $576 million; sales of prescription drugs were flat, though total sales would have grown 2 percent without currency effects. This could be Schering's last-ever earnings report, provided its merger with Merck closes before year's end as planned. Results

  • Amgen's profit beat the Street, but revenue dropped by 2 percent to $3.8 billion as sales of its Aranesp anemia drug dropped precipitously, falling 19 percent to $685 million. The company eked out its income on cost cuts and lower taxes. Release | News

Also reporting were Genzyme, which disappointed analysts with lower-than-expected earnings and cut its 2009 outlook. Amylin Pharmaceuticals narrowed its lost to 19 cents per share on revenues of $211.2 million, which were down 3.3 percent from last year. And Celgene benefited from strong sales of its blood-cancer drug Revlimid, posting Street-beating revenues of $695 million.

- see the Genzyme story from Reuters
- get more on Amylin from Zacks
- read the Reuters story on Celgene