Today: Today, Merck & Co. (MRK) Stock Rating Upgraded by Bank of America Corp.

Today, Merck & Co. (MRK) Stock Rating Upgraded by Bank of America Corp.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was upgraded by stock analysts at Bank of America Corp. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Thursday. The brokerage presently has a $70.00 price target on the stock, up from their prior price target of $57.00.

A number of other research firms also recently issued reports on MRK. Barclays PLC increased their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 9th. Jefferies Group increased their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Sanford C. Bernstein reissued an “outperform” rating and set a $74.00 target price (up previously from $66.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, August 11th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Finally, Leerink Swann reissued a “market perform” rating and set a $65.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, October 12th. Twelve equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of €65.58 ($72.87).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.14 on Thursday. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $47.97 and a 12 month high of $64.86. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $62.56 and its 200 day moving average is $58.70. The stock has a market cap of $171.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.09 and a beta of 0.68.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.01% and a return on equity of 23.41%. The company’s revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.86 EPS. Analysts predict that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were paid a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.96%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 101.10%.

In other news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.97), for a total transaction of €2,532,456.00 ($2,813,840.00). Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 128,973 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,894,837.90). The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.61 ($69.57), for a total value of €2,454,312.00 ($2,727,013.33). Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at €2,454,312 ($2,727,013.33). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Acrospire Investment Management LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 5.9% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,800 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 124.7% in the second quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc now owns 1,802 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Americafirst Capital Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $115,000. NewSquare Capital LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 14.2% in the second quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 2,104 shares of the company’s stock worth $121,000 after buying an additional 261 shares during the period. Finally, First New York Securities LLC NY acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $121,000. 72.93% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Merck & Co.

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