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Stockwatch: Sanofi's insulin war

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Executive Summary

Despite missing analyst consensus estimates of its quarterly sales, Merck & Co's earnings beat estimates by 2% thanks to lower R&D spending and were described as "solid", "robust" and "fairly in-line" by Jefferies, Citigroup and JP Morgan, respectively (, 28 October 2014). In truth, Merck and Bristol- Myers Squibb (BMS) (both of which we own) are likely to be given free passes on whatever their results will be, at least for the next couple of quarters, as no one wants to get in the way of the recent and imminent US approval and launch of their new products for the immunotherapy of cancer, Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab), respectively. Indeed BMS' financial results from the previous week were almost a side-show to the hotly anticipated results of the CheckMate-063 clinical trial of Opdivo in lung cancer. These results were duly delivered last week showing an impressive one year survival rate of 41% in this difficult-to-treat population (, 31 October 2014).

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