Merck stock price target raised to $88 from $84 at CFRA

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Merck shares rise premarket as earnings top estimates

Merck & Co. Inc. shares rose 2.6% in premarket trade Tuesday, after the drug company posted stronger-than-expected earnings for the first quarter and raised guidance for the full year. The company said it had net income of $2.915 billion, or $1.12 a share, in the quarter, up from $736 million, or 27 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter, when it booked a charge on a venture with Eisai Co. Ltd. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $1.22, ahead of the $1.05 FactSet consensus. Sales rose to $10.816 billion from $10.037 billion, also ahead of the FactSet consensus of $10.468 billion. Sales of its core Keytruda drug rose 55% to $2.269 billion from $1.464 billion. The company narrowed and raised its full-year EPS forecast to $4.02 to $4.14 and tweaked its adjusted EPS forecast to $4.67 to $4.79, compared with a FactSet consensus of $4.68. It expects sales to range from $43.9 billion to $45.1 billion, compared with a FactSet consensus of $44.5 billion. Shares have gained 30% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 11%.

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