Longer Investments Inc. lessened its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 27.5% during the 4th quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The firm owned 25,930 shares of the company’s stock after selling 9,845 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for about 2.3% of Longer Investments Inc.’s holdings, making the stock its 14th biggest position. Longer Investments Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $1,981,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

A number of other institutional investors also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Third Point LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter valued at $319,230,000. Chemung Canal Trust Co. boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 82.2% in the third quarter. Chemung Canal Trust Co. now owns 107,279 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,610,000 after acquiring an additional 48,395 shares during the period. PointState Capital LP acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the third quarter worth about $8,513,000. Port Capital LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the third quarter valued at approximately $1,028,000. Finally, Green Valley Investors LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the third quarter valued at approximately $31,418,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.29% of the company’s stock.

MRK opened at $79.81 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a current ratio of 1.44. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $52.83 and a 52-week high of $80.19. The company has a market cap of $215.18 billion, a PE ratio of 18.39, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.09 and a beta of 0.62.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 35.10% and a net margin of 14.71%. The company had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.93 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.98 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, equities analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.66 EPS for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has authorized a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.76%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 50.69%.

In related news, Director Leslie A. Brun sold 3,052 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.22, for a total transaction of $235,675.44. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 5,000 shares in the company, valued at $386,100. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.71, for a total value of $393,550.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at $401,421. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 388,007 shares of company stock worth $30,371,627 over the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several equities research analysts have recently issued reports on the company. BMO Capital Markets lowered Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 target price for the company. in a research report on Wednesday, January 23rd. SunTrust Banks lifted their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, October 29th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 20th. Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating on the stock. Finally, Citigroup boosted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $73.80.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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