Trading Report: The Merck & Co. (MRK) Upgrade by Vetr Inc. to “Strong-Buy”

The Merck & Co. (MRK) Upgrade by Vetr Inc. to “Strong-Buy”

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was upgraded by equities research analysts at Vetr from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday. The brokerage currently has a $65.80 price objective on the stock. Vetr‘s target price suggests a potential upside of 5.77% from the company’s previous close.

Several other research firms have also commented on MRK. Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $62.00 price objective (up previously from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Deutsche Bank AG boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Jefferies Group boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and boosted their price objective for the stock from $62.00 to $73.00 in a research note on Sunday, August 7th. Finally, Barclays PLC boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research note on Friday, September 9th. Thirteen investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co. has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.24.

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 0.92% on Monday, hitting $62.21. 3,501,268 shares of the stock traded hands. Merck & Co. has a one year low of $47.97 and a one year high of $65.46. The company has a market cap of $171.52 billion, a PE ratio of 31.77 and a beta of 0.76. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $61.63 and a 200 day moving average of $60.02.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 25th. The company reported $1.07 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.99 by $0.08. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.76% and a return on equity of 24.25%. The firm earned $10.50 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.17 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.96 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.78 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 9th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, December 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.02%. This is an increase from Merck & Co.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.46. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, December 13th. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 93.88%.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.61, for a total transaction of $2,454,312.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 39,200 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,454,312. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.07, for a total transaction of $2,532,456.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at $8,005,354.11. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Solaris Asset Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 3.8% in the third quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,635 shares of the company’s stock worth $102,000 after buying an additional 60 shares during the period. Acrospire Investment Management LLC boosted its stake 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 boosted its stake 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. Nelson Van Denburg & Campbell Wealth Management Group LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.8% in the third quarter. Nelson Van Denburg & Campbell Wealth Management Group LLC now owns 1,711 shares of the company’s stock worth $106,000 after buying an additional 30 shares during the period. Finally, Blume Capital Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 14.0% in the third quarter. Blume Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,710 shares of the company’s stock worth $107,000 after buying an additional 210 shares during the period. 73.25% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. 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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