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Merck beats profit estimates, yet revenues light

A tablets is processed at the Merck KGaA pharmaceutical plant in Darmstadt, Germany.
Hannelore Foerster | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A tablets is processed at the Merck KGaA pharmaceutical plant in Darmstadt, Germany.

Merck reported second-quarter earnings on Tuesday that exceeded analysts' expectations, yet revenues fell as key drug sales tumbled sharply.

The health-care company's shares rose before the opening bell, following the news.

Earnings excluding items decreased to 83 cents per share from $1.05 a share in the year-earlier period .

Revenue eased to $11.01 billion from $12.31 billion a year ago, with the company saying second quarter pharmaceutical sales fell by 12 percent.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 83 cents a share on $11.22 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

What is Merck's stock doing now? (Click here for the latest quote.)

Like other big pharmaceutical companies, Merck has struggled to mitigate the financial impact of patent expirations of some of its most popular remedies, including asthma drug Singulair.

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