Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 141.5% in the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 564,548 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 330,735 shares during the quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $8,777,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently bought and sold shares of MRK. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 185,546,933 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,262,699,000 after purchasing an additional 831,243 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% during the 2nd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,346,241,000 after purchasing an additional 3,242,430 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 15,905,834 shares of the company’s stock worth $965,485,000 after purchasing an additional 149,438 shares during the period. Macquarie Group Ltd. grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 19.5% during the 2nd quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 14,733,548 shares of the company’s stock worth $894,326,000 after purchasing an additional 2,406,836 shares during the period. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 41.8% during the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 12,486,915 shares of the company’s stock worth $757,959,000 after purchasing an additional 3,682,328 shares during the period. 72.13% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

A number of equities analysts have weighed in on the company. Zacks Investment Research cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, October 1st. Credit Suisse Group upped their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $71.00 to $81.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, October 11th. ValuEngine upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, October 18th. BMO Capital Markets upped their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, October 22nd. Finally, Guggenheim assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Monday, October 8th. They issued a “buy” rating for the company. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $71.92.

NYSE MRK opened at $74.61 on Wednesday. The company has a market capitalization of $201.84 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.75, a P/E/G ratio of 2.03 and a beta of 0.73. Merck & Co., Inc. has a fifty-two week low of $52.83 and a fifty-two week high of $75.99. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.15.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The firm had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. As a group, sell-side analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.95%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has approved a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to repurchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, insider Roger M. Perlmutter sold 225,443 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.27, for a total transaction of $16,969,094.61. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 366,998 shares in the company, valued at approximately $27,623,939.46. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, September 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total value of $7,534,524.80. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $7,018,000. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846. Company insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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

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