Merck Earnings Beat, but Delays High-Profile Drug

CNBC.com with Reuters
Merck lab
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Merck reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts' expectations on Friday, but it issued a cautious outlook and said it would delay seeking approval for a high-profile osteoporosis drug.

The company's shares closed down 3.28 percent Friday. (Click for latest quotes for Merck.)

The company posted fourth-quarter earnings excluding items of 83 cents per share, down from 97 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue decreased to $11.7 billion from $12.29 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 81 cents a share on $11.49 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Sales were helped by strong sales of its Januvia diabetes drug and Gardasil, a vaccine against cervical cancer.

However, the company said it was cautious for 2013's full-year profits. It said 2013 revenue would be near 2012 levels, on a constant currency basis.

Merck also said Friday it will not seek approval until next year for osteoporosis treatment odanacatib, a delay that Jefferies analyst Jeffrey Holford said ``will disappoint many investors.''

CEO Kenneth C. Frazier said the decision did not result from pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He said the company continues to believe in the drug's potential and that the delay was necessary in order to include additional data from an extension trial.