Drugmaker Merck tops 3Q forecasts as Keytruda sales jump 20%

Merck turned in a better-than-expected third quarter and raised its 2022 forecast as the drugmaker’s top seller brought in over a third of its revenue.

Sales of the cancer fighter Keytruda grew 20% to more than $5.4 billion in the quarter and would have jumped 26% without the impact of foreign exchange rates, Merck said Thursday.

The drugmaker also saw sales for its Gardasil vaccine grow 15% to $2.3 billion. That vaccine protects against cancer-causing human papilloma virus infections.

Overall, Merck’s total revenue grew 14% to $14.96 billion in the quarter, and adjusted earnings totaled $1.85 per share.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of $1.67 on $14.05 billion in revenue, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Merck’s bottom line fell 29% in the quarter to $3.25 billion as research and development costs and other expenses rose.

The Rahway, N.J.-based company now expects full-year earnings in the range of $7.32 to $7.37 per share. That’s a higher and narrower forecast than what it predicted in July.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $7.34 per share from Merck in 2022, according to FactSet.

Company shares jumped 2% to top $100 in premarket trading Thursday. That would mark a new all-time high price in regular trading, according to FactSet.