Highland Capital Management LP reduced its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 98.0% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 37,024 shares of the company’s stock after selling 1,793,476 shares during the period. Highland Capital Management LP’s holdings in Merck & Co. were worth $2,180,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.
Several other large investors have also recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD increased its position in 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 last quarter. Asset Management One Co. Ltd. increased its position in Merck & Co. by 992.4% in the fourth quarter. Asset Management One Co. Ltd. now owns 4,936,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $290,682,000 after buying an additional 4,484,427 shares during the last quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter worth about $223,288,000. Swedbank bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the third quarter worth about $135,119,000. Finally, Adage Capital Partners GP L.L.C. increased its position in Merck & Co. by 59.5% in the third quarter. Adage Capital Partners GP L.L.C. now owns 5,147,943 shares of the company’s stock worth $321,283,000 after buying an additional 1,921,350 shares during the last quarter. 74.10% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 0.88% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $62.00. 7,271,963 shares of the stock were exchanged. The stock has a market cap of $170.23 billion, a P/E ratio of 43.97 and a beta of 0.79. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $63.91 and its 200-day moving average price is $62.49. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.06 and a 52-week high of $66.80.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.89 EPS for the quarter, meeting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.89. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 24.08% and a net margin of 14.30%. The company earned $10.10 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.22 billion. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.93 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post $3.81 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 7th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, March 15th were paid a $0.47 dividend. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.01%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, March 13th. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 92.61%.
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Several research firms have weighed in on MRK. Vetr upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $65.54 price objective on the stock in a report on Wednesday, March 1st. Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Friday, February 24th. BMO Capital Markets lowered their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, February 15th. Jefferies Group LLC restated an “underperform” rating and set a $52.00 price objective (up previously from $50.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Saturday, March 11th. Finally, Leerink Swann restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, March 20th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $67.74.
In related news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 53,850 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.48, for a total transaction of $3,418,398.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director Thomas R. Cech sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred 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 transaction, the director now owns 5,100 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $323,442. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 160,809 shares of company stock valued at $10,261,846. Company insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.
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. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. 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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