Merck Animal Health ($MRK)
2015 Revenue: $3.32 billion
HQ: Summit, NJ
Wall Street analysts have long questioned Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier’s commitment to animal health, but in 2015, all signs pointed to continued enthusiasm for the company’s role in the burgeoning industry. Merck’s performance has been particularly strong in the companion animal side of the business, thanks largely to sales of its new chewable flea-and-tick medication, Bravecto. Strong demand from pet owners helped drive Merck’s animal health revenues up 9% in 2015. Merck continues to look for growth opportunities in animal health, acting quickly, for example, to develop a vaccine for the new strain of dog flu that swept the country in 2015, H3N2. And late in the year, it acquired Harrisvaccines, a developer of RNA-based vaccines. That deal brought Merck front-and-center in the war against avian flu: Harrisvaccines had been appointed by the USDA to help build an emergency stockpile of vaccines to protect against a re-emergence of the disease that wiped out 48 million turkeys and chickens in 2015.
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