Merck & Company, Inc. (MRK) Sees Large Increase in Short Interest

Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the target of a significant increase in short interest in May. As of May 15th, there was short interest totalling 18,464,887 shares, an increase of 22.5% from the April 28th total of 15,072,688 shares. Approximately 0.7% of the shares of the stock are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 10,981,725 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 1.7 days.

In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 53,850 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, April 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.48, for a total transaction of $3,418,398.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director C Robert Kidder sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, May 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.54, for a total transaction of $317,700.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 14,317 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $909,702.18. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Clearbridge Investments LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Company by 0.6% in the first quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 13,414,669 shares of the company’s stock worth $852,368,000 after buying an additional 77,344 shares in the last quarter. Laurel Wealth Advisors Inc. raised its position in Merck & Company by 29.0% in the first quarter. Laurel Wealth Advisors Inc. now owns 23,669 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,503,000 after buying an additional 5,323 shares during the last quarter. Patten Group Inc. raised its position in Merck & Company by 0.9% in the first quarter. Patten Group Inc. now owns 30,820 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,946,000 after buying an additional 267 shares during the last quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC raised its position in Merck & Company by 1.0% in the first quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC now owns 724,095 shares of the company’s stock worth $46,009,000 after buying an additional 7,488 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ballentine Partners LLC raised its position in Merck & Company by 11.9% in the first quarter. Ballentine Partners LLC now owns 17,464 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,113,000 after buying an additional 1,862 shares during the last quarter. 73.79% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Several research analysts have recently issued reports on the stock. Credit Suisse Group reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Company in a report on Tuesday. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Merck & Company from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, June 12th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Company in a research note on Tuesday, June 6th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $51.00 price target on shares of Merck & Company in a research report on Wednesday, May 24th. Finally, Vetr cut shares of Merck & Company from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $69.99 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, May 17th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $69.22.

Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.97 on Friday. Merck & Company has a 12-month low of $55.10 and a 12-month high of $66.80. The company has a market capitalization of $172.23 billion, a P/E ratio of 40.13 and a beta of 0.86. The company has a 50-day moving average of $63.95 and a 200 day moving average of $63.08.

Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, May 2nd. The company reported $0.88 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.83 by $0.05. Merck & Company had a net margin of 15.32% and a return on equity of 24.99%. The business had revenue of $9.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.25 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.89 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 1.3% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Company will post $3.84 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 10th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, June 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, June 13th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.99%. Merck & Company’s dividend payout ratio is currently 85.84%.

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About Merck & Company

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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