Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) – Equities researchers at Jefferies Group cut their FY2016 EPS estimates for shares of Merck & Co. in a research note issued to investors on Thursday. Jefferies Group analyst J. Holford now forecasts that the firm will post earnings of $3.75 per share for the year, down from their prior forecast of $3.80. Jefferies Group currently has a “Hold” rating and a $65.00 price target on the stock. Jefferies Group also issued estimates for Merck & Co.’s FY2018 earnings at $4.34 EPS, FY2019 earnings at $4.56 EPS and FY2020 earnings at $4.84 EPS.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations 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% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.86 earnings per share.

Earnings History and Estimates for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

A number of other equities research analysts have also weighed in on the stock. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday. Bank of America Corp. raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $57.00 to $70.00 in a report on Thursday, October 13th. Leerink Swann reissued a “market perform” rating and set a $65.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, October 12th. Barclays PLC reissued an “overweight” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, October 12th. Finally, Vetr lowered shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $64.84 target price on the stock. in a report on Monday, October 10th. Thirteen analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of €65.58 ($72.06).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 61.52 on Monday. The company has a market capitalization of $170.12 billion, a PE ratio of 33.75 and a beta of 0.68. The company has a 50-day moving average of $62.53 and a 200-day moving average of $58.84. Merck & Co. has a one year low of $47.97 and a one year high of $64.86.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Commonwealth Equity Services Inc raised its position in Merck & Co. by 3.6% in the first quarter. Commonwealth Equity Services Inc now owns 845,044 shares of the company’s stock valued at $44,711,000 after buying an additional 29,679 shares during the last quarter. Mn Services Vermogensbeheer B.V. bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the first quarter valued at $3,251,000. Alexandria Capital LLC raised its position in Merck & Co. by 43.8% in the first quarter. Alexandria Capital LLC now owns 24,435 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,293,000 after buying an additional 7,439 shares during the last quarter. Lockheed Martin Investment Management Co. bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the first quarter valued at $794,000. Finally, Virginia Retirement System bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the first quarter valued at $24,058,000. Institutional investors own 72.93% of the company’s stock.

In related news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of €61.81 ($67.92), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,625,846.15). Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at €47,029,807.37 ($51,681,107). The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The shares were 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. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were issued a $0.46 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.99%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 101.10%.

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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MRK

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