Investors purchased shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading on Thursday. $122.31 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $82.02 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $40.29 million into the stock. Of all stocks tracked, Merck & Co. had the 5th highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co. traded down ($0.38) for the day and closed at $58.78

Several research firms have commented on MRK. Credit Suisse Group AG reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $59.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday. Vetr raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $62.26 target price on the stock in a report on Monday. Argus reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Thursday, June 9th. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. restated a “neutral” rating and issued a $60.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, June 8th. Finally, Jefferies Group raised their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $51.00 to $54.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, April 15th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of €60.22 ($66.91).

The stock has a market capitalization of $162.70 billion and a PE ratio of 36.04. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $56.64 and a 200-day moving average of $53.70.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, May 5th. The company reported $0.89 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.85 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $9.30 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.45 billion. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 1.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.85 earnings per share. Equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.72 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, July 8th. Investors of record on Wednesday, June 15th will be given a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.13%. The ex-dividend date is Monday, June 13th.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 30,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €57.49 ($63.88), for a total value of €1,724,700.00 ($1,916,333.33). Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 162,151 shares in the company, valued at €9,322,060.99 ($10,357,845.54). The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Clark Golestani sold 39,877 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of €54.79 ($60.88), for a total transaction of €2,184,860.83 ($2,427,623.14). Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 17,083 shares in the company, valued at €935,977.57 ($1,039,975.08). The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds and institutional investors recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 1.4% in the fourth quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 167,627,208 shares of the company’s stock valued at $8,854,069,000 after buying an additional 2,353,965 shares during the period. Thornburg Investment Management Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 75.9% in the fourth quarter. Thornburg Investment Management Inc. now owns 4,713,874 shares of the company’s stock valued at $248,987,000 after buying an additional 2,033,600 shares during the period. Independent Franchise Partners LLP boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 20.6% in the fourth quarter. Independent Franchise Partners LLP now owns 9,810,754 shares of the company’s stock valued at $518,204,000 after buying an additional 1,674,237 shares during the period. Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co. by 5.9% in the fourth quarter. Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC now owns 26,655,176 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,407,926,000 after buying an additional 1,476,100 shares during the period. Finally, Deprince Race & Zollo Inc. bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter valued at $62,101,000.

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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