Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Friday. The firm currently has a $73.00 price objective on the stock.

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.”

Other research analysts have also recently issued research reports about the stock. Argus restated a “buy” rating and set a $80.00 price objective (up previously from $65.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Thursday, October 27th. Vetr upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $65.80 price objective for the company in a report on Monday, November 7th. Bank of America Corp. upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their price objective for the company from $57.00 to $70.00 in a report on Thursday, October 13th. Berenberg Bank restated a “hold” rating and set a $62.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Sunday, September 11th. Finally, Jefferies Group restated a “hold” rating and set a $65.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Sunday, October 16th. Eleven analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co. currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of €66.71 ($71.73).

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

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 63.53 on Friday. Merck & Co. has a 12-month low of $47.97 and a 12-month high of $65.46. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $61.69 and its 200-day moving average is $59.50. The company has a market cap of $175.16 billion, a P/E ratio of 32.45 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, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.99 by $0.08. The business earned $10.50 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.17 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.76% and a return on equity of 24.25%. Merck & Co.’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.96 earnings per share. Analysts predict that Merck & Co. will post $3.77 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other Merck & Co. news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.07 ($66.74), for a total transaction of €2,532,456.00 ($2,723,070.97). Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 128,973 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,607,907.65). The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.61 ($67.32), for a total transaction of €2,454,312.00 ($2,639,045.16). Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at €2,454,312 ($2,639,045.16). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of MRK. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 174,819,694 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,071,362,000 after buying an additional 3,242,254 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 74,363,785 shares of the company’s stock valued at $4,284,098,000 after buying an additional 535,407 shares during the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 2.2% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 56,714,385 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,539,544,000 after buying an additional 1,235,395 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.9% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 45,572,909 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,844,205,000 after buying an additional 840,309 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.1% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 36,237,082 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,261,555,000 after buying an additional 411,890 shares during the last quarter. 73.24% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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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