Merck said Monday that quarterly earnings rose 12% on strong demand for its newer vaccines and medicines, and raised its 2007 profit forecast, sending its shares up 4%.
Second-quarter net income rose to $1.68 billion, or 77 cents per share, from $1.5 billion, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier.
The latest results include the impact of setting aside another $210 million for legal fees associated with litigation involving the company's Vioxx arthritis drug.
Merck is facing about 27,000 lawsuits among people who claim to have been harmed by the widely used pill, which was withdrawn in 2004 after being linked to heart attacks.
Excluding special items, Merck earned 82 cents per share in the quarter. On that basis, the analysts' average forecast was 72 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.
Merck said it expected full-year earnings per share, excluding special items, of $3 to $3.10, which translates into growth of 19% to 23% over last year. It had previously forecast $2.75 to $2.85.
Company sales rose 6% to $6.11 billion, about $300 million more than Wall Street had expected, despite plunging sales of Merck's Zocor cholesterol fighter, which is now facing competition from cheaper generics.