I usually cover pharma earnings from my desk at CNBC HQ in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. But because Merck made a rare offer to interview its Chairman and CEO Dick Clark exclusively this morning I'm out at Merck's idyllic HQ campus in central NJ.
The Dow component's earnings report gave us the first look at the impact of the Vytorin-Zetia study on the sales of those cholesterol drugs. Revenue fell $300 million sequentially. And MRK says it expects its equity income from the V-Z joint venture with Schering-Plough to go down $700 million this year. Nonetheless, Merck is reaffirming its 2008 guidance for $3.28-$3.38 earnings per share. The Street's at the bottom of that range. In recent years Merck has often raised guidance in its quarterly reports. Not this time.
That's not just because of V-Z. Sales of the asthma-allergy drug Singulair also dropped sequentially by $100 million. The FDA's investigating whether the mega-blockbuster drug might cause people have suicidal behavior. But on the conference call Merck officials said there's also been a late start to the spring allergy season.