Trade Report: Today, Merck & Co. (MRK) Upgrade to Buy by The Zacks Investment Research

Today, Merck & Co. (MRK) Upgrade to Buy by The Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Wednesday morning. They currently have $69.00 price objective on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Merck’s third-quarter results were strong, with the company beating on all fronts and slightly raising both its sales and earnings outlook for the year. The latest FDA approval of Keytruda for the first line treatment of metastatic lung cancer should sharply improve the drug’s sales. New products, especially Keytruda should continue to contribute meaningfully to the top line. Merck has also made significant progress with its pipeline and is working on bringing new products to the market. Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. The company has also been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. However, generic competition and pricing pressure will continue to pressurize the top line. Nasonex and Cubicin lost patent exclusivity in 2016 which is hurting sales.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on the stock. Citigroup Inc. reiterated a neutral rating and set a $65.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, August 10th. BMO Capital Markets upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and increased their target price for the stock from $62.00 to $72.00 in a report on Friday, August 5th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Tuesday, September 13th. Bank of America Corp. upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a neutral rating to a buy rating and increased their target price for the stock from $57.00 to $70.00 in a report on Thursday, October 13th. Finally, 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 report on Friday, September 9th. Thirteen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $66.24.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 61.80 on Wednesday. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $61.61 and its 200-day moving average price is $60.15. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $47.97 and a 1-year high of $65.46. The firm has a market cap of $170.39 billion, a P/E ratio of 31.56 and a beta of 0.76.

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

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 9th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, December 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.47 per share. This is an increase from Merck & Co.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.46. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, December 13th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.04%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 93.88%.

In other Merck & Co. news, Director Rochelle B. Lazarus sold 20,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.06, for a total transaction of $1,181,200.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 9,594 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $566,621.64. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 140,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.03, for a total transaction of $9,104,200.00. Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 514,957 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $33,487,653.71. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Solaris Asset Management LLC increased 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 valued at $102,000 after buying an additional 60 shares during the period. Acrospire Investment Management LLC increased 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 valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased 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 valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Nelson Van Denburg & Campbell Wealth Management Group LLC increased 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 valued at $106,000 after buying an additional 30 shares during the period. Finally, Blume Capital Management Inc. increased 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 valued at $107,000 after buying an additional 210 shares during the period. 72.55% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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