Bank of America Corp. upgraded shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) from a neutral rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Thursday. The brokerage currently has $70.00 price objective on the stock, up from their previous price objective of $57.00.
Several other analysts also recently commented on MRK. Argus reissued a buy rating and set a $65.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, September 14th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a market perform rating and set a $62.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Tuesday, August 2nd. Jefferies Group increased their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Thursday, July 14th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reissued a neutral rating and set a $62.00 price objective (up from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Leerink Swann reissued a hold rating and set a $58.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, July 14th. Thirteen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co. has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of €65.58 ($72.06).
Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.09 on Thursday. The company has a market cap of $171.69 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 34.06 and a beta of 0.68. The company’s 50-day moving average is $62.50 and its 200-day moving average is $58.90. Merck & Co. has a 12-month low of $47.97 and a 12-month high of $64.86.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.01% and a return on equity of 23.41%. The company had revenue of $9.84 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.86 EPS. Merck & Co.’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts predict that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 earnings per share for the current year.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.96%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 101.10%.
In other news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of €61.81 ($67.92), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,625,846.15). Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at approximately €47,029,807.37 ($51,681,107). The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.61 ($68.80), for a total value of €2,454,312.00 ($2,697,046.15). Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at €2,454,312 ($2,697,046.15). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.
Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MRK. GW&K Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 6.6% in the third quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 369,150 shares of the company’s stock worth $23,039,000 after buying an additional 22,736 shares during the last quarter. MAI Capital Management boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 5.1% in the third quarter. MAI Capital Management now owns 60,496 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,776,000 after buying an additional 2,917 shares during the last quarter. Anderson Hoagland & Co. bought a new stake in shares of Merck & Co. during the third quarter worth $274,000. Capital Investment Advisors LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 8.8% in the third quarter. Capital Investment Advisors LLC now owns 60,731 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,790,000 after buying an additional 4,932 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Guinness Asset Management Ltd boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 7.1% in the third quarter. Guinness Asset Management Ltd now owns 108,460 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,769,000 after buying an additional 7,160 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.93% of the company’s stock.
Merck & Co. Company Profile
Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. 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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