Merck & Co. shares
rose 0.8% premarket Thursday, after the drug company beat estimates for the fourth quarter after chalking up more than $ 950 million in sales from its COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir. The company posted net income of $ 3,820 billion, or $ 1.51 a share, for the quarter, after a loss of $ 2,617 billion, or $ 1.03 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $ 1.80, well ahead of the $ 1.53 FactSet consensus. Sales rose 24% to $ 13.521 billion from $ 10.948 billion, also ahead of the $ 13.156 billion FactSet consensus. Sales were boosted by $ 952 million of sales of molnupiravir, which Merck developed with partner privately held Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The treatment has been authorized in the US, Japan and the UK, and is expected to generate sales of $ 5 billion to $ 6 billion in 2022. Merck is expecting its 2022 adjusted EPS to range from $ 7.12 to $ 7.27, compared to a FactSet consensus of $ 7.30 . It expects sales to range from $ 56.1 billion to $ 57.6 billion, compared to a FactSet consensus of $ 56.7 billion. Shares have gained 11% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500
has gained 20%.