Barclays PLC reissued their overweight rating on shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) in a research note published on Wednesday.

Several other research firms also recently weighed in on MRK. Vetr downgraded Merck & Co. from a buy rating to a hold rating and set a $64.84 price objective for the company. in a report on Monday. Deutsche Bank AG boosted their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a neutral rating and issued a $62.00 target price (up from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, August 8th. Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $62.00 to $73.00 in a report on Sunday, August 7th. Finally, Jefferies Group boosted their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Twelve equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of €64.74 ($71.93).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 0.96% during midday trading on Wednesday, hitting $62.25. 3,971,572 shares of the stock were exchanged. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $47.97 and a 1-year high of $64.86. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $62.58 and a 200-day moving average of $58.61. The company has a market capitalization of $172.13 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.15 and a beta of 0.68.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.86 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts expect that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.98%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 101.10%.

In other news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of €61.81 ($68.68), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,921,688.89). Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at approximately €47,029,807.37 ($52,255,341.52). The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.97), for a total value of €2,532,456.00 ($2,813,840.00). Following the transaction, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at approximately €8,005,354.11 ($8,894,837.90). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth about $274,347,000. Orbis Allan Gray Ltd purchased a new position in Merck & Co. during the first quarter valued at approximately $239,761,000. Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co. by 24.1% in the second quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 22,992,642 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,324,996,000 after buying an additional 4,468,488 shares in the last quarter. Bank of Montreal Can purchased a new position in Merck & Co. during the second quarter valued at approximately $250,542,000. Finally, Boston Partners increased its position in Merck & Co. by 23.8% in the second quarter. Boston Partners now owns 19,034,299 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,096,566,000 after buying an additional 3,655,639 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.93% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co.

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. 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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