Merck posts $1.6 billion 4Q earnings

Loss due to Vioxx deal
January 30, 2008 5:20:35 AM PST
Merck & Co. on Tuesday posted a $1.6 billion loss in the fourth quarter as whopping charges for its Vioxx litigation settlement and other items dragged down results.The maker of allergy and asthma pill Singulair and osteoporosis treatment Fosamax said the net loss amounted to 75 cents per share, compared with a year-ago profit of $473.9 million, or 22 cents per share.

The fourth-quarter charges totaled $3.4 billion, or $1.55 per share; that included a charge for Merck's pending $4.85 billion settlement to end the bulk of lawsuits over Vioxx, the painkiller it pulled from the market in September 2004 because it increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Excluding the one-time earnings, net income would have been 80 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 74 cents per share and revenues of $6.3 billion; their estimates generally exclude one-time items.

Revenues totaled $6.24 billion, up 3 percent from $6.04 billion in 2006's fourth quarter.

Merck said it expects full-year 2008 earnings per share of $3.80 to $4, excluding one-time items. That's down from its prior forecast, issued in early December, of $3.96 to $4.06, excluding items.