Investors Buy Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) on Weakness

Traders purchased shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading hours on Friday. $132.60 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $102.83 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $29.77 million into the stock. Of all equities tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 23rd highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded down ($0.06) for the day and closed at $56.99

A number of equities analysts recently commented on the company. Zacks Investment Research cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 11th. Leerink Swann lifted their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Monday, October 23rd. Jefferies Group reiterated a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, October 20th. BMO Capital Markets reiterated an “outperform” rating and issued a $72.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Thursday, October 12th. Finally, Citigroup upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.29.

The company has a quick ratio of 1.16, a current ratio of 1.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. The company has a market cap of $155,265.67, a PE ratio of 14.65, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.84 and a beta of 0.76.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 27.08% and a net margin of 11.60%. The business had revenue of $10.33 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.54 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.07 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 15th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.37%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 114.97%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, November 28th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are generally a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total transaction of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Beacon Financial Group increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 37.7% during the fourth quarter. Beacon Financial Group now owns 7,147 shares of the company’s stock worth $402,000 after buying an additional 1,955 shares during the period. Atlantic Trust Group LLC increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 59.6% during the third quarter. Atlantic Trust Group LLC now owns 3,212,984 shares of the company’s stock worth $205,729,000 after buying an additional 1,200,259 shares during the period. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 8.6% during the third quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 8,199,448 shares of the company’s stock worth $525,011,000 after buying an additional 647,712 shares during the period. AXA increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the third quarter. AXA now owns 1,266,367 shares of the company’s stock worth $81,085,000 after buying an additional 4,987 shares during the period. Finally, Asset Planning Services Ltd. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 131.6% during the third quarter. Asset Planning Services Ltd. now owns 350,871 shares of the company’s stock worth $22,466,000 after buying an additional 199,340 shares during the period. 73.63% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

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