What Does Thursday Morning Portend? Merck’s Q4 & Year-End 2011 Earnings Call

Prior to market open this Thursday, Whitehouse Station will report fourth quarter 2011, and full-year 2011 financial results. Consensus estimates suggest Q4 EPS will come in at $0.95. Other large-cap pharmas reporting last week have just met expectations for 2011, and promised a slightly better 2012.

For his part, Chairman Ken Frazier — at the Goldman Sachs unscripted event, in the first week of January 2012 — suggested that 2012 would be a brighter year for Merck than 2011 was. Even so, I look for Mr. Frazier to tamp down expectations for the early part of 2012, at least until we get a sense of whether the nascent US recovery has legs, whether the euro crisis is pretty well on its way to ending, and whether the US Supreme Court upholds Mr. Obama’s health care package, as an appropriate use of commerce clause, tax-levying and “necessary and proper” powers.

And so, I’d not look for any upside surprises near-term from Thursday’s call.


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