Kentucky Retirement Systems bought a new position in Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) during the second quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor bought 235,387 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $13,561,000. Merck & Co. comprises approximately 0.9% of Kentucky Retirement Systems’ investment portfolio, making the stock its 19th largest position.

A number of other large investors also recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 1.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 174,819,694 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,071,362,000 after buying an additional 3,242,254 shares during the period. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. increased its stake in 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 worth $4,284,098,000 after buying an additional 535,407 shares during the period. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 4.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 44,732,600 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,577,045,000 after buying an additional 1,701,520 shares during the period. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 6.2% in the second quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA now owns 26,224,184 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,510,776,000 after buying an additional 1,531,565 shares during the period. Finally, Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 24.1% in the second quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 22,992,642 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,324,996,000 after buying an additional 4,468,488 shares during the period. 73.24% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.32% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $61.87. 7,696,863 shares of the company were exchanged. The company has a 50 day moving average of $61.69 and a 200-day moving average of $59.50. The company has a market capitalization of $170.58 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.60 and a beta of 0.76. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $47.97 and a 1-year high of $65.46.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 25th. The company reported $1.07 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.99 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $10.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.17 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.76% and a return on equity of 24.25%. The firm’s revenue was up 4.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $0.96 earnings per share. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.77 EPS for the current year.

A number of equities research analysts have recently issued reports on the stock. Barclays PLC boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 9th. Jefferies Group boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Friday, October 14th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein reissued an “outperform” rating and set a $74.00 price objective (up previously from $66.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, August 11th. Thirteen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of €66.53 ($71.54).

In other news, Director Rochelle B. Lazarus sold 20,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of €59.06 ($63.51), for a total value of €1,181,200.00 ($1,270,107.53). Following the sale, the director now owns 9,594 shares in the company, valued at €566,621.64 ($609,270.58). The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated 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 completion of the sale, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at approximately €8,005,354.11 ($8,607,907.65). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.05% 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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