Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) has been given an average recommendation of “Hold” by the twenty-two ratings firms that are presently covering the stock. Thirteen analysts have rated the stock with a hold recommendation and nine have issued a buy recommendation on the company. The average 12 month price objective among analysts that have covered the stock in the last year is €64.86 ($71.27).

A number of brokerages recently commented on MRK. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Sunday. Bank of America Corp. raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and lifted their price target for the stock from $57.00 to $70.00 in a report on Thursday. Leerink Swann reaffirmed a “market perform” rating and issued a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, October 12th. Finally, Barclays PLC reaffirmed an “overweight” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, October 12th.

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 0.925% during trading on Monday, reaching $61.565. The company had a trading volume of 7,050,396 shares. The stock has a market capitalization of $170.24 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 33.771 and a beta of 0.68. The company’s 50 day moving average is $62.56 and its 200-day moving average is $58.70. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $47.97 and a 1-year high of $64.86.

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

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Investors 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 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.96%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 101.10%.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.21), for a total transaction of €2,532,456.00 ($2,782,918.68). Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at approximately €8,005,354.11 ($8,797,092.43). The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of €63.03 ($69.26), for a total transaction of €189,090.00 ($207,791.21). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Acrospire Investment Management LLC increased its position in Merck & Co. by 5.9% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,800 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 124.7% in the second quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc now owns 1,802 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. Americafirst Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $115,000. NewSquare Capital LLC increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 14.2% in the second quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 2,104 shares of the company’s stock worth $121,000 after buying an additional 261 shares during the last quarter. Finally, First New York Securities LLC NY acquired a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $121,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.93% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Co. 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, 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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MRK

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