Traders Buy Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) on Weakness

Investors purchased shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading on Wednesday. $154.84 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $90.18 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $64.66 million into the stock. Of all companies tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 8th highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded down ($0.08) for the day and closed at $56.14

Several equities research analysts have commented on the stock. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, September 8th. Leerink Swann boosted their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research report on Monday, October 23rd. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $55.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, October 20th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group reaffirmed an “outperform” rating and set a $74.00 price target (down previously from $75.00) on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, September 5th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $66.29.

The stock has a market cap of $153,110.00, a P/E ratio of 54.50, a PEG ratio of 2.81 and a beta of 0.76. The company has a quick ratio of 1.16, a current ratio of 1.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 11.60% and a return on equity of 27.08%. The firm had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.54 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.07 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be paid a $0.48 dividend. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.42%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 186.41%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock valued at $12,442,709,000 after acquiring an additional 3,312,459 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,997,390 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,856,484,000 after acquiring an additional 1,834,500 shares during the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% during the 2nd quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 27,019,572 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,731,684,000 after acquiring an additional 801,033 shares during the last quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 7.5% during the 3rd quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 23,515,877 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,505,621,000 after acquiring an additional 1,631,013 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Boston Partners increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% during the 3rd quarter. Boston Partners now owns 18,730,874 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,199,338,000 after acquiring an additional 145,744 shares during the last quarter. 73.63% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

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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