Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Thursday. The firm currently has a $70.00 price target 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.”

Several other research analysts have also weighed in on MRK. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “market perform” rating and issued a $62.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Tuesday, August 2nd. Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and increased their price objective for the stock from $62.00 to $73.00 in a research report on Sunday, August 7th. Jefferies Group increased their price objective on Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Deutsche Bank AG increased their price objective on Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $62.00 price objective (up from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Eleven analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of €66.53 ($71.54).

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

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.63 on Thursday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $61.75 and a 200-day moving average price of $59.69. Merck & Co. has a one year low of $47.97 and a one year high of $65.46. The stock has a market capitalization of $172.68 billion, a P/E ratio of 31.99 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 (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.99 by $0.08. The business earned $10.50 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.17 billion. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 24.25% and a net margin of 13.76%. The business’s revenue was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.96 earnings per share. Analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.77 earnings per share for the current year.

In other Merck & Co. news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 140,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of €65.03 ($69.92), for a total transaction of €9,104,200.00 ($9,789,462.37). Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 514,957 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €33,487,653.71 ($36,008,229.80). The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Rochelle B. Lazarus sold 20,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of €59.06 ($63.51), for a total transaction of €1,181,200.00 ($1,270,107.53). Following the sale, the director now directly owns 9,594 shares in the company, valued at €566,621.64 ($609,270.58). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Solaris Asset Management LLC raised its stake in Merck & Co. by 3.8% in the third quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,635 shares of the company’s stock valued at $102,000 after buying an additional 60 shares during the period. 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 in the last quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased 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 valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares in the last quarter. Nelson Van Denburg & Campbell Wealth Management Group LLC increased its position in Merck & Co. by 1.8% in the third quarter. Nelson Van Denburg & Campbell Wealth Management Group LLC now owns 1,711 shares of the company’s stock valued at $106,000 after buying an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Blume Capital Management Inc. increased 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 valued at $107,000 after buying an additional 210 shares in the last quarter. 73.24% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other 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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MRK

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