Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Merck’s new products like Keytruda, Lynparza, and Bridion should continue to drive sales. Keytruda sales are gaining strong momentum with approval for additional indications especially in the first-line lung cancer setting as it is the only anti-PD-1 approved in this setting. Animal Health unit is also strong and remains a core growth driver for Merck. Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure will continue to be overhangs on the top line. Rising competitive pressure on the diabetes franchise and on products like Isentress (HIV), Zepatier (HCV) and Zostavax (vaccine) will remain headwinds. Merck’s shares have outperformed the industry this year so far. Estimates have gone up ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. Merck has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

Several other research analysts also recently commented on MRK. Jefferies Financial Group restated a “hold” rating and set a $59.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Sunday, July 15th. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Sunday, July 22nd. Bank of America raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 30th. SunTrust Banks restated a “buy” rating and set a $77.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Thursday, August 16th. Finally, Morgan Stanley set a $74.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, August 23rd. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $70.24.

MRK opened at $71.82 on Tuesday. The firm has a market cap of $191.27 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.05, a PEG ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.81. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $72.89. The company has a current ratio of 1.33, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $1.06 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $10.47 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.28 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 32.68% and a net margin of 3.67%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s quarterly revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted $1.01 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.27 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 228,091 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total value of $14,825,915.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now owns 938,788 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $61,021,220. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Sanat Chattopadhyay sold 29,208 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.20, for a total value of $1,904,361.60. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 70,675 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,608,010. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 929,360 shares of company stock worth $64,370,599 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Clearwater Capital Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 1st quarter worth about $103,000. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 208.4% during the 1st quarter. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. now owns 1,983 shares of the company’s stock worth $108,000 after acquiring an additional 1,340 shares during the period. Taylor Wealth Management Partners acquired a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter worth about $110,000. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 155.2% during the 2nd quarter. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV now owns 1,832 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after acquiring an additional 1,114 shares during the period. Finally, Well Done LLC acquired a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 1st quarter worth about $115,000. 72.18% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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