Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) saw a significant decrease in short interest in October. As of October 31st, there was short interest totalling 23,360,173 shares, a decrease of 14.0% from the October 14th total of 27,177,727 shares. Currently, 0.8% of the shares of the company are short sold. Based on an average trading volume of 11,128,052 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 2.1 days.

In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 1st. The shares were 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 completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at €2,454,312 ($2,639,045.16). The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 3rd. The stock was 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 owns 128,973 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately €8,005,354.11 ($8,607,907.65). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Legal & General Group Plc raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.1% in the first quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 13,626,514 shares of the company’s stock worth $720,986,000 after buying an additional 152,049 shares in the last quarter. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd FI raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 2.7% in the first quarter. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd FI now owns 407,379 shares of the company’s stock worth $21,554,000 after buying an additional 10,821 shares in the last quarter. Edgar Lomax Co. VA raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 15.5% in the first quarter. Edgar Lomax Co. VA now owns 1,218,784 shares of the company’s stock worth $64,486,000 after buying an additional 163,400 shares in the last quarter. Wealthsource Partners LLC bought a new stake in shares of Merck & Co. during the first quarter worth $219,000. Finally, Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group LLC raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 3.3% in the first quarter. Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group LLC now owns 110,287 shares of the company’s stock worth $5,835,000 after buying an additional 3,498 shares in the last quarter. 73.24% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Several brokerages have recently weighed in on MRK. Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $62.00 target price (up previously from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Vetr cut shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $64.84 price target for the company. in a report on Monday, October 10th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price target for the company in a report on Thursday. Bank of America Corp. raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price target for the stock from $57.00 to $70.00 in a report on Thursday, October 13th. Finally, Argus reissued a “buy” rating and set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, September 14th. Thirteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co. has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €66.53 ($71.54).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 61.87 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $170.58 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.60 and a beta of 0.76. The company’s 50-day moving average is $61.69 and its 200-day moving average is $59.50. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $47.97 and a 12 month high of $65.46.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its 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 firm earned $10.50 billion during 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%. Merck & Co.’s revenue was up 4.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.96 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.77 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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.

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