Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Merck’s third-quarter results were strong, with the company beating on all fronts and slightly raising both its sales and earnings outlook for the year. The latest FDA approval of Keytruda for the first line treatment of metastatic lung cancer should sharply improve the drug’s sales. New products, especially Keytruda should continue to contribute meaningfully to the top line. Merck has also made significant progress with its pipeline and is working on bringing new products to the market. Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line The company has also been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. However, generic competition and pricing pressure will continue to pressurize the top line. Nasonex and Cubicin lost patent exclusivity in 2016 which is hurting sales.”

Several other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on MRK. Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $59.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, July 13th. Leerink Swann reissued a “hold” rating and set a $58.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, July 14th. Jefferies Group boosted their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 14th. BMO Capital Markets downgraded shares of Merck & Co. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $62.00 target price for the company. in a research report on Monday, July 18th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, 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 research report on Monday, August 8th. Twelve investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of €66.52 ($73.10).

Analyst Recommendations for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 64.18 on Thursday. Merck & Co. has a 52-week low of $47.97 and a 52-week high of $65.00. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $61.60 and a 200 day moving average price of $59.41. The firm has a market capitalization of $177.47 billion, a PE ratio of 32.78 and a beta of 0.76.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 25th. The company reported $1.07 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.99 by $0.08. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.76% and a return on equity of 24.24%. The firm earned $10.50 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.17 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.96 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts expect that Merck & Co. will post $3.77 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, Director Rochelle B. Lazarus sold 20,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of €59.06 ($64.90), for a total value of €1,181,200.00 ($1,298,021.98). Following the sale, the director now owns 9,594 shares in the company, valued at €566,621.64 ($622,661.14). The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The stock was 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 sale, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at approximately €8,005,354.11 ($8,797,092.43). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Solaris Asset Management LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 3.8% in the third quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,635 shares of the company’s stock worth $102,000 after buying an additional 60 shares during the period. Acrospire Investment Management LLC boosted 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 worth $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc boosted its position 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 period. Blume Capital Management Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 14.0% in the third quarter. Blume Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,710 shares of the company’s stock worth $107,000 after buying an additional 210 shares during the period. Finally, Americafirst Capital Management LLC purchased a new position in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth $115,000. Institutional investors own 72.99% 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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