Novare Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 31.1% in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm owned 4,393 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 1,043 shares during the period. Novare Capital Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $400,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Other institutional investors have also recently bought and sold shares of the company. BancorpSouth Bank grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% in the 3rd quarter. BancorpSouth Bank now owns 50,676 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,266,000 after acquiring an additional 1,538 shares during the last quarter. First Hawaiian Bank grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 45.5% during the 4th quarter. First Hawaiian Bank now owns 37,968 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,453,000 after purchasing an additional 11,876 shares in the last quarter. Nomura Holdings Inc. grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 260.4% during the 3rd quarter. Nomura Holdings Inc. now owns 801,905 shares of the company’s stock worth $67,143,000 after purchasing an additional 579,388 shares in the last quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.2% during the third quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 2,519,127 shares of the company’s stock worth $212,060,000 after buying an additional 123,617 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ashburton Jersey Ltd increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the third quarter. Ashburton Jersey Ltd now owns 210,924 shares of the company’s stock worth $17,756,000 after buying an additional 750 shares during the last quarter. 74.50% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

A number of brokerages recently weighed in on MRK. ValuEngine downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 14th. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and issued a $95.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Wednesday, January 8th. Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a “sector perform” rating and set a $92.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Thursday, February 6th. UBS Group lowered their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $99.00 to $96.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, February 6th. Finally, Mizuho restated a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Wednesday, February 5th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $95.75.

Shares of MRK stock traded up $0.68 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $82.65. The stock had a trading volume of 572,799 shares, compared to its average volume of 11,022,104. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $72.23 and a one year high of $92.64. The firm has a market cap of $218.09 billion, a PE ratio of 21.69, a P/E/G ratio of 2.18 and a beta of 0.57. The firm’s 50 day simple moving average is $88.70 and its 200 day simple moving average is $86.14. The company has a quick ratio of 0.98, a current ratio of 1.26 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.84.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 5th. The company reported $1.16 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.15 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $11.87 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $11.71 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 48.76% and a net margin of 21.01%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s quarterly revenue was up 7.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $1.04 earnings per share. Sell-side analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 5.74 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, April 7th. Stockholders of record on Monday, March 16th will be given a $0.61 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, March 13th. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.95%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 47.01%.

In related news, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 102,073 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, January 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $89.34, for a total value of $9,119,201.82. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 106,099 shares in the company, valued at $9,478,884.66. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. 0.27% of the stock is owned by insiders.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

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

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

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