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Merck Cuts Profit Forecast as Buyback Boosted $15 Billion

Merck & Co., facing generic competition to what was once its best-selling drug, cut its full-year guidance in anticipation of lower sales and said it would start buying back as much as $15 billion in shares.

Merck’s stock fell the most in three months. Earnings excluding one-time items for 2013 are now projected to be $3.45 to $3.55 a share, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based drugmaker said today in a statement. That’s 15 cents lower than the outlook given in February. First-quarter net income declined to $1.59 billion, or 52 cents a share, from $1.74 billion, or 56 cents, a year earlier, the company said.