Texas Permanent School Fund lessened its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 9.1% during the third quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the SEC. The institutional investor owned 597,032 shares of the company’s stock after selling 59,467 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for approximately 0.6% of Texas Permanent School Fund’s portfolio, making the stock its 25th largest holding. Texas Permanent School Fund’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $42,353,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds have also modified their holdings of MRK. Senator Investment Group LP purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth $285,594,000. Bank of Montreal Can purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth $232,626,000. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 41.8% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 12,486,915 shares of the company’s stock worth $757,959,000 after buying an additional 3,682,328 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% in the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,346,241,000 after buying an additional 3,242,430 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Investec Asset Management LTD raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 4,320.3% during the second quarter. Investec Asset Management LTD now owns 3,096,008 shares of the company’s stock valued at $187,928,000 after purchasing an additional 3,025,967 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.13% of the company’s stock.

A number of research firms have weighed in on MRK. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, October 1st. Credit Suisse Group raised their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $71.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 11th. ValuEngine upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 18th. BMO Capital Markets raised their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Monday, October 22nd. Finally, Guggenheim began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Monday, October 8th. They set a “buy” rating on the stock. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $72.53.

MRK opened at $74.84 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $201.38 billion, a PE ratio of 18.80, a P/E/G ratio of 2.03 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a current ratio of 1.44, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12 month low of $52.83 and a 12 month high of $75.99.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The firm had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. On average, analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.94%. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is currently 48.24%.

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

In other news, SVP Ashley Watson sold 47,036 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, October 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $74.33, for a total value of $3,496,185.88. Following the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 32,990 shares in the company, valued at $2,452,146.70. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total value of $7,534,524.80. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 100,000 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,018,000. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock worth $92,845,846. Company insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

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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