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Merck Q3 profit beats estimate, but Januvia sales slump

Merck & Co. diabetes treatment Januvia.
JB Reed | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Merck reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings, helped by cost cutting, but sales of its Januvia diabetes treatment fell, raising more concerns about growth prospects for the company's biggest product.

The company said on Monday it earned $1.12 billion, or 38 cents per share, in the third quarter. That compared with $1.73 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, Merck earned 92 cents per share. Analysts, on average, expected 88 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Company sales fell 4 percent to $11.03 billion, below Wall Street expectations of $11.12 billion. They would have fallen 2 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which lowers the value of sales in overseas markets.

Merck said it expects full-year earnings of $3.48 to $3.52 per share, excluding special items. Early this month, it forecast $3.45 to $3.55 per share.

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares rose in pre-market trading. (Click here to get the latest quotes for Merck.)

CNBC contributed to this report