Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) – Research analysts at Jefferies Group lowered their FY2021 earnings per share estimates for Merck & Co. in a note issued to investors on Wednesday. Jefferies Group analyst J. Holford now forecasts that the company will post earnings per share of $4.69 for the year, down from their prior estimate of $4.85. Jefferies Group currently has a “Underperform” rating and a $52.00 price target on the stock.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.89 EPS for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.89. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 14.30% and a return on equity of 24.08%. The firm had revenue of $10.10 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.22 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.93 earnings per share. Merck & Co.’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year.
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A number of other research firms also recently issued reports on MRK. Vetr upgraded Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $65.54 price objective for the company in a report on Wednesday, March 1st. Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Friday, February 24th. BMO Capital Markets decreased their price objective on Merck & Co. from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, February 15th. Leerink Swann reiterated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, March 20th. Finally, HSBC Holdings plc downgraded Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to a “reduce” rating in a report on Friday, April 7th. Two investment 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 an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $67.74.
Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.06% during midday trading on Friday, reaching $61.89. 11,164,982 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. The firm has a market capitalization of $169.92 billion, a P/E ratio of 43.89 and a beta of 0.79. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $63.91 and its 200 day moving average price is $62.49. Merck & Co. has a 52-week low of $53.06 and a 52-week high of $66.80.
Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Norges Bank acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $1,628,824,000. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD increased its position in shares of 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 valued at $2,226,043,000 after buying an additional 16,764,608 shares in the last quarter. Dodge & Cox acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $821,068,000. Asset Management One Co. Ltd. increased its position in shares of 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 valued at $290,682,000 after buying an additional 4,484,427 shares in the last quarter. Finally, DZ BANK AG Deutsche Zentral Genossenschafts Bank Frankfurt am Main acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $252,822,000. Institutional investors own 74.10% of the company’s stock.
In other news, Director Thomas R. Cech sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.42, for a total transaction of $317,100.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at approximately $323,442. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 91,959 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.96, for a total value of $5,881,697.64. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 105,559 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $6,751,553.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 160,809 shares of company stock valued at $10,261,846 over the last quarter. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 7th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, March 15th were paid a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date was Monday, March 13th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.01%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 92.61%.
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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