Merck posts solid third-quarter results amid crisis

The German pharmaceutical and chemical group Merck posted on Monday a solid third-quarter profit and expressed confidence despite the international economic crisis.

Merck said its net profit had jumped more than four-fold to €200.1 million ($251 million) in the three-month period, from €36.2 million in the third quarter of 2007, which was marked by charges linked to its purchase of Serono.

The result was in line with analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires, who had pencilled in a net profit of €202 million. Quarterly sales increased by 8.7 percent to €1.89 billion, better than analysts forecasts of a 6.7 percent rise, a company statement said.

Merck chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley was quoted as saying that “the group continued to post solid growth despite international financial turbulence, and negative foreign exchange rates.”

The group essentially confirmed its 2008 targets, saying it now expects sales to expanded by between six to eight percent, compared with a previous forecast of between five and nine percent.

Merck’s profit margin was tipped to come in between 23-25 percent, down slightly from the previous outlooks of 23-27 percent.