German drugmaker Merck KGaA has raised its full-year forecast for 2012 after turning in a strong second quarter that exceeded analyst expectations.

Shares in the group were on the rise this morning after the group posted earnings (before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation) of 747 million euros, 14% higher than the year-ago quarter and higher than than the 706 million-euro analyst prediction cited by Reuters.

Loss after tax slimmed down to 61 million euros from 87 million euros recorded a year ago, equating to a loss per share, on a reported basis, of 0.29 euros, on higher sales and a helping hand from exchange rate effects.

Revenues for the period were up 12% at 2.85 billion euros, with sales rising 11% to 2.74 billion euros, reflecting organic sales growth of 5.1% and a 5.4% positive benefit from foreign exchange rates, the firm said.

Merck Serono’s second-quarter sales increased 11% to 1.54 billion euros for the period, while the group's Consumer Health division turned in second-quarter sales of 121 million euros, up 2.9% from a year ago.

Rebif and Erbitux do well

Global sales of Merck’s biggest product, the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif (interferon beta-1a), jumped 9.6% organically to 492 million euros, while revenues of its targeted cancer treatment Erbitux (cetuximab) were 7.1% higher on an organic basis to 226 million euros. 

“Merck reported solid second-quarter results due to healthy demand in all our businesses, tight cost management, and favorable currency exchange rates,” said Karl-Ludwig Kley, the chairman of the the firm's executive board, commenting on the results.

Based on the strong performance during the quarter, Merck has upped its full-year total revenues forecast to 10.7 billion euros and EBITDA expectation to 2.85 billion - 2.95 billion euros, including 55 million euros from its efficiency savings programme, it said.