Merck KGaA lifts full-year sales guidance, despite Q3 profit almost halving

Headline results for the third quarter:

Healthcare sales

1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion)



3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion)



340 million euros ($384 million)


Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

CEO Stefan Oschmann noted that "2018 was a challenging year for our company," adding "we made future-oriented decisions that will lead to profitable growth as of 2019." Oschmann indicated that "in the third quarter, we generated strong organic sales growth across all three business sectors. In particular, healthcare and life science performed well, delivering strong organic growth of nearly 10 percent."

The company explained that the decline in quarterly profit was due to a one-off gain of 321 million euros ($362 million) in the prior-year period following the sale of its biosimilars business to Fresenius.

Other results:

  • Bavencio: 19 million euros ($21 million), versus 7 million euros ($8 million) in the prior-year period
  • Mavenclad: 25 million euros ($28 million), compared to 3 million euros ($3 million) in the prior-year period
  • Rebif: 363 million euros ($410 million), down 6.7 percent, due to the "competitive situation" in the interferons market in North America and "competitive pressure" in Europe
  • Erbitux: 212 million euros ($239 million), up 2.1 percent, largely attributable to growth in Russia and Turkey
  • Gonal-f: 182 million euros ($205 million), up 8 percent, with "good" organic sales increases in North America and Asia-Pacific
  • Life Sciences: 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), up 8.5 percent

Looking ahead:

Merck now expects full-year sales to grow between 4 percent and 6 percent, to 14.4 billion euros ($16.2 billion) to 14.8 billion euros ($16.7 billion), up from a prior estimate of between 3 percent and 5 percent, to 14.1 billion euros ($15.9 billion) to 14.6 billion euros ($16.5 billion). The company noted that the raised guidance follows "strong organic sales growth in the third quarter, particularly in the healthcare and life science business sectors."

However, Merck said that due to the continued strong decline in value of Latin American currencies against the euro, earnings will be lowered by between 8 percent and 10 percent, versus a previous prediction of 5 percent to 7 percent. As such, annual earnings are forecast to be between 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion) and 3.9 billion euros ($4.4 billion), down from a previous range of 3.75 billion euros ($4.23 billion) to 4 billion euros ($4.51 billion).

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