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

Traders purchased shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading on Wednesday. $213.22 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $130.31 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $82.91 million into the stock. Of all companies tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 4th highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded down ($0.58) for the day and closed at $75.41

Several equities analysts have commented on MRK shares. SunTrust Banks upped their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, October 29th. Citigroup upped their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $80.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Monday, October 8th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 20th. Finally, Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. They issued an “outperform” rating on the stock. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.32.

The stock has a market capitalization of $203.32 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.73, a P/E/G ratio of 1.82 and a beta of 0.67. 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 released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. Equities analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Investors of record on Monday, December 17th were given a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date was Friday, December 14th. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.96%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is 55.28%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has approved a share buyback program on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to repurchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 36,218 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.14, for a total transaction of $2,721,420.52. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 82,481 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $6,197,622.34. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider Roger M. Perlmutter sold 225,443 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.27, for a total value of $16,969,094.61. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 366,998 shares in the company, valued at approximately $27,623,939.46. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 612,043 shares of company stock worth $45,530,574. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Arlington Partners LLC lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 93.5% in the 4th quarter. Arlington Partners LLC now owns 828 shares of the company’s stock valued at $63,000 after purchasing an additional 400 shares during the period. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 86.5% in the 3rd quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 1,656 shares of the company’s stock valued at $117,000 after purchasing an additional 768 shares during the period. WESPAC Advisors SoCal LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter valued at $118,000. Almanack Investment Partners LLC. acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter valued at $139,000. Finally, Acropolis Investment Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter valued at $140,000. 72.58% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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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