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Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK)

Analysis of Revenues

Advanced level

Accounting Policy on Revenue Recognition

On January 1, 2018, Merck adopted ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and subsequent amendments (ASC 606 or new guidance), using the modified retrospective method. Merck applied the new guidance to all contracts with customers within the scope of the standard that were in effect on January 1, 2018 and recognized the cumulative effect of initially applying the new guidance as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings. Comparative information for prior periods has not been restated and continues to be reported under the accounting standards in effect for those periods.

The new guidance requires an entity to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration that it expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. The new guidance introduces a 5-step model to recognize revenue when or as control is transferred: identify the contract with a customer, identify the performance obligations in the contract, determine the transaction price, allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract, and recognize revenue when or as the performance obligations are satisfied. Changes to Merck’s revenue recognition policy as a result of adopting ASC 606 are described below.

Recognition of revenue requires evidence of a contract, probable collection of sales proceeds and completion of substantially all performance obligations. Merck acts as the principal in substantially all of its customer arrangements and therefore records revenue on a gross basis. The majority of Merck’s contracts related to the Pharmaceutical and Animal Health segments have a single performance obligation - the promise to transfer goods. Shipping is considered immaterial in the context of the overall customer arrangement and damages or loss of goods in transit are rare. Therefore, shipping is not deemed a separately recognized performance obligation.

The vast majority of revenues from sales of products are recognized at a point in time when control of the goods is transferred to the customer, which Merck has determined is when title and risks and rewards of ownership transfer to the customer and Merck is entitled to payment. Certain Merck entities, including U.S. entities, have contract terms under which control of the goods passes to the customer upon shipment; however, either pursuant to the terms of the contract or as a business practice, Merck retains responsibility for goods lost or damaged in transit. Prior to the adoption of the new standard, Merck would recognize revenue for these entities upon delivery of the goods. Under the new guidance, Merck is now recognizing revenue at time of shipment for these entities.

Merck recognizes revenue from the sales of vaccines to the Federal government for placement into vaccine stockpiles in accordance with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Interpretation, Commission Guidance Regarding Accounting for Sales of Vaccines and BioTerror Countermeasures to the Federal Government for Placement into the Pediatric Vaccine Stockpile or the Strategic National Stockpile. This interpretation allows companies to recognize revenue for sales of vaccines into U.S. government stockpiles even though these sales might not meet the criteria for revenue recognition under other accounting guidance.

For businesses within Merck’s Healthcare Services segment and certain services in the Animal Health segment, revenue is recognized over time, generally ratably over the contract term as services are provided. These service revenues are not material.

The nature of Merck’s business gives rise to several types of variable consideration including discounts and returns, which are estimated at the time of sale generally using the expected value method, although the most likely amount method is used for prompt pay discounts.

In the United States, sales discounts are issued to customers at the point-of-sale, through an intermediary wholesaler (known as chargebacks), or in the form of rebates. Additionally, sales are generally made with a limited right of return under certain conditions. Revenues are recorded net of provisions for sales discounts and returns, which are established at the time of sale. In addition, revenues are recorded net of time value of money discounts if collection of accounts receivable is expected to be in excess of one year.

The U.S. provision for aggregate customer discounts covering chargebacks and rebates was $10.7 billion in 2018, $10.7 billion in 2017 and $9.7 billion in 2016. Chargebacks are discounts that occur when a contracted customer purchases through an intermediary wholesaler. The contracted customer generally purchases product from the wholesaler at its contracted price plus a mark-up. The wholesaler, in turn, charges Merck back for the difference between the price initially paid by the wholesaler and the contract price paid to the wholesaler by the customer. The provision for chargebacks is based on expected sell-through levels by Merck’s wholesale customers to contracted customers, as well as estimated wholesaler inventory levels. Rebates are amounts owed based upon definitive contractual agreements or legal requirements with private sector and public sector (Medicaid and Medicare Part D) benefit providers, after the final dispensing of the product by a pharmacy to a benefit plan participant. The provision for rebates is based on expected patient usage, as well as inventory levels in the distribution channel to determine the contractual obligation to the benefit providers. Merck uses historical customer segment utilization mix, sales forecasts, changes to product mix and price, inventory levels in the distribution channel, government pricing calculations and prior payment history in order to estimate the expected provision. Amounts accrued for aggregate customer discounts are evaluated on a quarterly basis through comparison of information provided by the wholesalers, health maintenance organizations, pharmacy benefit managers, federal and state agencies, and other customers to the amounts accrued. The accrued balances relative to the provisions for chargebacks and rebates included in Accounts receivable and Accrued and other current liabilities were $245 million and $2.4 billion, respectively, at December 31, 2018 and were $198 million and $2.4 billion, respectively, at December 31, 2017.

Outside of the United States, variable consideration in the form of discounts and rebates are a combination of commercially-driven discounts in highly competitive product classes, discounts required to gain or maintain reimbursement, or legislatively mandated rebates. In certain European countries, legislatively mandated rebates are calculated based on an estimate of the government’s total unbudgeted spending and Merck’s specific payback obligation. Rebates may also be required based on specific product sales thresholds. Merck applies an estimated factor against its actual invoiced sales to represent the expected level of future discount or rebate obligations associated with the sale.

Merck maintains a returns policy that allows its U.S. pharmaceutical customers to return product within a specified period prior to and subsequent to the expiration date (generally, three to six months before and 12 months after product expiration). The estimate of the provision for returns is based upon historical experience with actual returns. Additionally, Merck considers factors such as levels of inventory in the distribution channel, product dating and expiration period, whether products have been discontinued, entrance in the market of generic competition, changes in formularies or launch of over-the-counter products, among others. Outside of the United States, returns are only allowed in certain countries on a limited basis.

Merck’s payment terms for U.S. pharmaceutical customers are typically net 36 days from receipt of invoice and for U.S. animal health customers are typically net 30 days from receipt of invoice; however, certain products, including Keytruda, have longer payment terms up to 90 days. Outside of the United States, payment terms are typically 30 days to 90 days, although certain markets have longer payment terms.

Source: 10-K (filing date: 2019-02-27).

Revenues as Reported

Merck & Co. Inc., Income Statement, Revenues

US$ in millions

Microsoft Excel LibreOffice Calc
12 months ended Dec 31, 2018 Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2015 Dec 31, 2014
Pharmaceutical segment sales
Animal Health segment sales
Other segment sales
Segment sales

Based on: 10-K (filing date: 2019-02-27), 10-K (filing date: 2018-02-27), 10-K (filing date: 2017-02-28), 10-K (filing date: 2016-02-26), 10-K (filing date: 2015-02-27).

Item Description The company
Sales Amount of revenue recognized from goods sold, services rendered, insurance premiums, or other activities that constitute an earning process. Includes, but is not limited to, investment and interest income before deduction of interest expense when recognized as a component of revenue, and sales and trading gain (loss). Merck & Co. Inc.’s sales increased from 2016 to 2017 and from 2017 to 2018.