BTIM Corp. Reduces Position in Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

BTIM Corp. decreased its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.7% during the 4th quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm owned 606,248 shares of the company’s stock after selling 10,242 shares during the quarter. BTIM Corp.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $46,324,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Other institutional investors and hedge funds have also added to or reduced their stakes in the company. WealthPLAN Partners LLC increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.6% during the third quarter. WealthPLAN Partners LLC now owns 8,377 shares of the company’s stock valued at $626,000 after acquiring an additional 135 shares during the period. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.9% during the fourth quarter. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY now owns 3,178 shares of the company’s stock valued at $243,000 after acquiring an additional 149 shares during the period. Pratt Collard Advisory Partners LLC increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.6% during the fourth quarter. Pratt Collard Advisory Partners LLC now owns 30,665 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,343,000 after acquiring an additional 180 shares during the period. Evanson Asset Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.3% during the fourth quarter. Evanson Asset Management LLC now owns 5,979 shares of the company’s stock valued at $457,000 after acquiring an additional 189 shares during the period. Finally, Intl Fcstone Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.6% during the fourth quarter. Intl Fcstone Inc. now owns 5,864 shares of the company’s stock valued at $451,000 after acquiring an additional 204 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.29% of the company’s stock.

A number of research firms recently commented on MRK. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Friday, January 4th. BMO Capital Markets raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Monday, October 22nd. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, October 18th. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 13th. Finally, Wolfe Research began coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating on the stock. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $73.15.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.96, for a total transaction of $759,600.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Director Leslie A. Brun sold 3,052 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.22, for a total transaction of $235,675.44. Following the sale, the director now owns 5,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $386,100. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 244,618 shares of company stock valued at $19,075,949 over the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Shares of NYSE:MRK opened at $79.02 on Thursday. The company has a market cap of $209.82 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.21, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.05 and a beta of 0.62. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1-year low of $52.83 and a 1-year high of $80.19. The company has a quick ratio of 1.15, a current ratio of 1.44 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $11 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.93 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 35.10%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.98 earnings per share. As a group, sell-side analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.78%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 50.69%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback program on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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