Kenilworth-based drugmaker Merck said Feb. 4 its longtime Chief Executive Officer Ken Frazier is stepping down later this year, amid an announcement the same day that fourth quarter earnings were weaker than what Wall Street expected.
Frazier, who spent 29 years with the company, 10 of them as CEO, will retire on June 30 and be replaced by the now-Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis, Merck said.
He will continue his role as executive chairman for Merck’s board for a “transition period to be determined by the board,” the Thursday announcement adds.
“It has been a privilege to serve as Merck’s CEO for the past decade and to work with the most dedicated and talented employees and management team in the industry,” Frazier said in a prepared statement. “As executive chairman, I look forward to collaborating with Rob and our board of directors to help Merck achieve even higher levels of success.”
Merck announced on Thursday that its adjusted earnings fell to $1.32 per share on $12.5 billion of sales during the fourth quarter, which runs from September to December. Expectations were that Merck would have earned $1.38 billion per share or $12.67 billion in sales.
In the 2019 fourth quarter, the pharmaceutical giant posted $1.16 per share on $11.87 billion in sales.
On Jan. 25, Merck announced it would be scrapping its COVID-19 vaccine development efforts, after data from Phase 1 clinical trials showed “inferior” immune responses.