Profits Triple But Merck Will Layoff Workers

Company said it will cut its workforce by 12% to 13% by the end of 2015, compared to the level at the end of 2009, although it pledged to add workers in strategic areas such as emerging markets.

Pharmaceuticals giant Merck said on July 29 that its second-quarter profit nearly tripled to $2.02 billion, meeting analysts' expectations, but it also warned of steep layoffs ahead. The New Jersey-based company is seeking to cut billions of dollars in costs and eliminate redundancies stemming from its $41 billion acquisition of rival Schering-Plough in 2009.

It also faces the imminent threat of patents expiring on key drugs, notably top-selling allergy medicine Singulair.

Merck's net income was $2.02 billion in the second quarter, up from $752 billion during the same period last year. Total revenues in April-June were $12.15 billion, a 7% increase from a year ago, Merck said. Earnings per share excluding special items came in at 95 cents, which matched the consensus forecast of Wall Street analysts.

"Double-digit growth from key products, and successful new product launches in markets worldwide led to Merck's strong second quarter results," said chief executive Kenneth Frazier.

Merck confirmed it would cut its workforce by 12% to 13% by the end of 2015, compared to the level at the end of 2009, although it pledged to add workers in strategic areas such as emerging markets.

"Merck is taking these difficult actions so that we can grow profitably and continue to deliver on our mission well into the future," said Frazier. "The environment we operate in is changing rapidly and dramatically, and these steps will help us more efficiently serve customers and patients around the world."

Merck has been seeking to achieve $3.5 billion in annual savings through its merger with Schering-Plough, one of several mega-mergers in the pharmaceuticals industry in recent years.

U.S.-based Merck is independent from German pharmaceuticals maker Merck KGaA, although the two share the same historical roots.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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