Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 7.6% on Friday . The company traded as high as $62.60 and last traded at $62.26, with a volume of 46,198,690 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at $57.84.

A number of equities research analysts have recently weighed in on the company. BMO Capital Markets raised Merck & Co. from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and boosted their target price for the company from $62.00 to $72.00 in a research note on Friday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reissued an “overweight” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Thursday, May 19th. Bank of America Corp. reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Thursday, May 12th. Credit Suisse Group AG reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $59.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, July 13th. Finally, Jefferies Group lowered their target price on Merck & Co. from $54.00 to $53.00 and set a “hold” rating for the company in a research note on Tuesday, June 14th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of €60.88 ($67.65).

The firm has a market cap of $176.77 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 35.03. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $58.24 and its 200-day moving average is $54.69.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.86 EPS. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.74 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be paid a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.88%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th.

In other Merck & Co. news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 30,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated 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 completion of the sale, the insider now owns 162,151 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €9,322,060.99 ($10,357,845.54). The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Clark Golestani sold 39,877 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated 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 sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 17,083 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately €935,977.57 ($1,039,975.08). The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Wedbush Securities Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 52.9% in the fourth quarter. Wedbush Securities Inc. now owns 39,653 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,094,000 after buying an additional 13,721 shares during the last quarter. Chicago Equity Partners LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 14.2% in the fourth quarter. Chicago Equity Partners LLC now owns 436,210 shares of the company’s stock worth $23,041,000 after buying an additional 54,330 shares during the period. Conning Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.8% in the fourth quarter. Conning Inc. now owns 623,656 shares of the company’s stock worth $32,942,000 after buying an additional 10,901 shares during the period. Geneva Advisors LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 4.7% in the fourth quarter. Geneva Advisors LLC now owns 497,738 shares of the company’s stock worth $26,291,000 after buying an additional 22,480 shares during the period. Finally, Court Place Advisors LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.7% in the fourth quarter. Court Place Advisors LLC now owns 25,739 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,360,000 after buying an additional 442 shares during the period.

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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