BMO Capital Markets Reiterates Buy Rating for Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)‘s stock had its “buy” rating restated by equities research analysts at BMO Capital Markets in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday. They currently have a $70.00 price target on the stock. BMO Capital Markets’ price target indicates a potential upside of 9.19% from the stock’s previous close.

A number of other research analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. Vetr upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $52.95 price objective on the stock in a research report on Monday, January 2nd. Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Friday, February 24th. Jefferies Group LLC downgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to an “underperform” rating and set a $48.00 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Monday, December 19th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, January 11th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $67.00 price objective on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, December 6th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co. has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $67.72.

Analyst Recommendations for Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 64.11 on Tuesday. The stock has a market capitalization of $176.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 45.47 and a beta of 0.79. Merck & Co. has a 52-week low of $51.59 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $64.81 and its 200-day moving average is $62.39.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.89 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.89 by $0.00. The company had revenue of $10.10 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.22 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 14.30% and a return on equity of 24.08%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.93 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.81 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 7th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, March 15th will be paid a $0.47 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, March 13th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.93%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 92.61%.

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In other news, Director Thomas R. Cech sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, February 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.42, for a total value of $317,100.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $323,442. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 91,959 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, February 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.96, for a total transaction of $5,881,697.64. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 105,559 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $6,751,553.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 106,959 shares of company stock valued at $6,843,448. Corporate insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Bank of New York Mellon Corp boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 2.2% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 56,714,385 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,539,544,000 after buying an additional 1,235,395 shares during the period. Northern Trust Corp boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.1% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 36,237,082 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,261,555,000 after buying an additional 411,890 shares during the period. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 88.7% in the third quarter. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD now owns 35,668,056 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,226,043,000 after buying an additional 16,764,608 shares during the period. Franklin Resources Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.6% in the fourth quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 28,800,338 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,695,480,000 after buying an additional 465,771 shares during the period. Finally, Norges Bank purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter worth about $1,628,824,000. 74.10% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Merck & Co.

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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