Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Position Cut by Principal Financial Group Inc.

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Principal Financial Group Inc. lessened its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 0.6% during the 4th quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm owned 7,300,563 shares of the company’s stock after selling 46,773 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. comprises 0.6% of Principal Financial Group Inc.’s portfolio, making the stock its 24th biggest holding. Principal Financial Group Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $557,836,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other institutional investors and hedge funds have also modified their holdings of the stock. PRW Wealth Management LLC purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter worth approximately $41,000. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 186.4% in the 4th quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 653 shares of the company’s stock worth $50,000 after purchasing an additional 425 shares during the period. Arlington Partners LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 93.5% in the 4th quarter. Arlington Partners LLC now owns 828 shares of the company’s stock worth $63,000 after purchasing an additional 400 shares during the period. Financial Gravity Companies Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter worth approximately $66,000. Finally, Advisors Preferred LLC purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter worth approximately $66,000. 71.82% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 20,105 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $82.00, for a total value of $1,648,610.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 810,859 shares in the company, valued at approximately $66,490,438. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 18,725 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $82.00, for a total value of $1,535,450.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now owns 816,440 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $66,948,080. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 484,138 shares of company stock valued at $39,605,380 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 0.27% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities analysts have recently commented on MRK shares. BMO Capital Markets lifted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $83.00 to $84.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 1st. ValuEngine cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, April 18th. UBS Group boosted their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $87.00 to $88.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, May 2nd. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Friday, March 29th. Finally, Atlantic Securities upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating in a report on Monday, May 13th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $82.92.

MRK opened at $81.17 on Monday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $58.03 and a 52-week high of $83.85. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82, a current ratio of 1.37 and a quick ratio of 1.06. The firm has a market cap of $218.85 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.70, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.92 and a beta of 0.58.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, April 30th. The company reported $1.22 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.05 by $0.17. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 39.85% and a net margin of 19.50%. The business had revenue of $10.82 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.45 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $1.05 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 7.8% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.72 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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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