Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) saw unusually large options trading on Thursday. Investors acquired 9,893 call options on the stock. This is an increase of 143% compared to the typical daily volume of 4,067 call options.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Perennial Advisors LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & by 10.7% in the second quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC now owns 1,626 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 157 shares in the last quarter. Stelac Advisory Services LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & during the second quarter valued at about $104,000. Vigilant Capital Management LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & by 16.7% in the first quarter. Vigilant Capital Management LLC now owns 1,746 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 250 shares in the last quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. boosted its position in shares of Merck & by 15.5% in the second quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,727 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 232 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Solaris Asset Management LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & by 6.3% in the second quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,940 shares of the company’s stock valued at $124,000 after buying an additional 115 shares in the last quarter. 73.46% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Merck & (NYSE MRK) opened at 62.94 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $171.66 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 34.08 and a beta of 0.80. The company has a 50-day moving average of $62.73 and a 200-day moving average of $63.80. Merck & has a 52 week low of $58.29 and a 52 week high of $66.80.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.14. The company had revenue of $9.93 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.75 billion. Merck & had a net margin of 17.14% and a return on equity of 26.02%. The business’s revenue was up .9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.93 EPS. Analysts anticipate that Merck & will post $3.87 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be paid a $0.47 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.99%. Merck &’s dividend payout ratio is currently 76.11%.

Several brokerages have weighed in on MRK. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $52.00 price target on shares of Merck & in a research report on Sunday, August 20th. HSBC Holdings plc raised Merck & from a “reduce” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. BidaskClub downgraded Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 2nd. Finally, UBS AG increased their price target on Merck & from $70.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, July 31st. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the stock. Merck & has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $69.63.

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Merck & 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. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. 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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