Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) during the third quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor bought 76,872 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,922,000.

Several other hedge funds also recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Stelac Advisory Services LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter valued at approximately $104,000. Perennial Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. 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 during the period. Solaris Asset Management LLC lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. 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 during the period. Balentine LLC lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% in the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 2,107 shares of the company’s stock valued at $135,000 after buying an additional 20 shares during the period. Finally, Risk Paradigm Group LLC lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 748.1% in the second quarter. Risk Paradigm Group LLC now owns 2,256 shares of the company’s stock valued at $145,000 after buying an additional 1,990 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 72.85% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) opened at $54.90 on Wednesday. The company has a quick ratio of 1.16, a current ratio of 1.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. The firm has a market cap of $151,015.55, a price-to-earnings ratio of 59.03, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.49 and a beta of 0.75. Merck & Co., Inc. has a twelve month low of $53.36 and a twelve month high of $66.80.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $10.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.48 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 6.40% and a return on equity of 27.73%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.89 earnings per share. sell-side analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.15 EPS for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock buyback program on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 6th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be issued a $0.48 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.50%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 206.45%.

In other news, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 12,500 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, January 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total transaction of $770,375.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, January 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $290,000.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,886,072. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 82,500 shares of company stock valued at $5,026,025 in the last three months. 0.25% of the stock is owned by insiders.

MRK has been the topic of several analyst reports. Cowen restated a “hold” rating and issued a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Friday, November 3rd. BMO Capital Markets set a $68.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, December 13th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Sunday, October 29th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 10th. Finally, Jefferies Group restated a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Friday, October 20th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have given a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $66.41.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

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

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