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Merck earnings slide to US$1.59b

MERCK & Co said second-quarter earnings fell, hurt by the strong US dollar and lower sales of its cholesterol drugs, but favorable tax settlements helped the drug maker soundly beat profit forecasts.

Merck, which plans to acquire Schering-Plough Corp in coming months, said yesterday it earned US$1.59 billion, or 74 US cents per share. That compares with US$1.77 billion, or 82 US cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Excluding special items, it earned 83 US cents per share. Analysts on average expected 77 US cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 3 percent to US$5.90 billion but was US$70 million above the Reuters Estimate forecast. Sales would have risen 3 percent if not for the strong US dollar.

Results were helped by a 10 percent decline in marketing and administrative expenses.

The Schering-Plough acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter.


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