The Darmstadt-based Merck Group has earned significantly more thanks to good business with new drugs and in the laboratory area. The pharmaceutical and specialty chemicals company increased sales in the third quarter by almost 17 percent compared to the same period last year to 5.8 billion euros, as the Dax group announced on Thursday. Adjusted operating profit grew at a similar rate to 1.8 billion euros. Merck benefited greatly from currency effects, such as the weak euro against the dollar. In contrast, business with displays for televisions and smartphones, for example, went downhill sharply.
In the third quarter, the Darmstadt-based company braced itself against the weakening economy and higher costs for raw materials, energy and logistics. The bottom line is that Merck earned 926 million euros, after 764 million a year earlier. In a turbulent environment, the group has shown resilience, said Merck CEO Belén Garijo.
From July to September, Merck increased its internal sales in the laboratory business related to drug production and pharmaceutical research by almost nine percent. That helped through a declining special boom around the pandemic. In recent years, the group has benefited from the high demand from vaccine researchers and manufacturers and also supplies the Mainz-based corona vaccine manufacturer Biontech. This year, Merck still expects pandemic-related special sales of up to 800 million euros.
New drugs for cancer and multiple sclerosis
Things also went smoothly for Merck in the pharmaceuticals business, where new drugs against cancer and multiple sclerosis drove sales. In the electronics division, on the other hand, the picture was mixed: while Merck achieved a jump in sales of almost 15 percent from its own resources in the semiconductor business, sales of display solutions fell by almost a third due to weak demand. Here, the group has been struggling with competition from Asia for liquid crystals for screens for a long time. After there was a very high demand for televisions, smartphones and televisions during the pandemic, a downturn is now also being felt, it said.
Merck now expects even more growth in the laboratory business, while management trimmed the forecast for the electronics business. Here it expects a sharp decline in adjusted operating profit.
Merck entered the semiconductor business in 2019 with the billion-dollar takeover of the US group Versum Materials and has been benefiting from the ongoing chip boom ever since. With this step, the Darmstadt-based company geared specialty chemicals towards the electronics industry, also to compensate for weaknesses in the once flourishing liquid crystal business.