Cost of sales increased by 31%. Nevertheless, the gross margin in the first quarter improved by 19% to EUR 1,924 million from EUR 1,612 million in the year-ago quarter. Most figures for the Group will continue to show significant variations in the first and second quarters due to the fact that the Millipore acquisition closed on July 14, 2010, and hence there were no Millipore contributions in the first half of 2010.
"Merck generated a solid performance in the first quarter and we are off to a very good start for the year, mainly driven by the strength of our Performance Materials and Merck Millipore divisions," said Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, Chairman of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA. "We continue to expect the increase in the Group's 2011 operating result will remain as stated on February 21, namely 35% to 45%."
About Merck KGaA
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 68 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.