My guess? Probably in-line -- with some 2 percent of continuing (mostly euro-driven) currency headwind, at the sales line -- as J&J reported much the same (earlier in this earnings cycle). But watch closely to see how Merck's boceprevir (branded as Victrelis®) sales for the quarter stack up against Vertex's telaprevir (branded as Incivek®) -- in the Hep C wars. I expect the 85-15 split will hold, in favor of Vertex, when Vertex reports after the closing bell on the NYSE tonight.
Here's just a bit of Linda Johnson's fine reporting for the AP Newswires, this morning -- do go read all of hers:
. . . .Merck is buying a 51 percent stake in a new joint venture in Brazil called Supera Farma Laboratorios SA. It will make and sell new drugs and branded generics made by Merck and the two other partners. All three companies will continue running their own businesses in Brazil, one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets due to its expanding middle class.
[CEO and Chairman of Merck Ken] Frazier is also expected to discuss preparation for the patent expiration of respiratory drug Singulair® this summer. Merck likely will follow the lead of other big drugmakers and make a deal with a generic drugmaker to sell an authorized generic version of Singulair. . . .
Analysts polled by FactSet, on average, expect earnings per share of 98 cents and sales of $11.83 billion.
Merck reported profit of 34 cents per share, or 92 cents excluding one-time items, on revenue of $$11.58 billion [in Q1 2011]. . .
We'll live blog it -- if there's any material upside or downside surprise.