Traders purchased shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading hours on Friday. $174.71 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $47.12 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $127.59 million into the stock. Of all equities tracked, Merck & Co. had the highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co. traded down ($0.27) for the day and closed at $63.36

A number of equities analysts recently commented on MRK shares. Vetr upgraded Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $62.26 target price for the company in a report on Monday, July 4th. Argus restated a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Thursday, June 9th. Jefferies Group raised their target price on Merck & Co. from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, July 14th. Leerink Swann restated a “hold” rating and set a $58.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Thursday, July 14th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG restated a “hold” rating and set a $59.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, July 13th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have issued a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €62.78 ($70.54).

The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $60.16 and its 200-day moving average price is $55.58. The company has a market cap of $175.20 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 34.76.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.86 EPS. The company earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co.’s quarterly revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.90%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th.

In related news, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of €63.03 ($70.82), for a total value of €189,090.00 ($212,460.67). The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 30,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, July 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €57.49 ($64.60), for a total value of €1,724,700.00 ($1,937,865.17). Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 162,151 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately €9,322,060.99 ($10,474,225.83). The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of hedge funds and institutional investors have modified their holdings of MRK. Bank of The Ozarks increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 7.7% in the fourth quarter. Bank of The Ozarks now owns 54,413 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,874,000 after buying an additional 3,895 shares in the last quarter. Johnson Financial Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 52.9% in the fourth quarter. Johnson Financial Group Inc. now owns 33,579 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,774,000 after buying an additional 11,624 shares in the last quarter. Ray Gerald L & Associates Ltd. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.3% in the fourth quarter. Ray Gerald L & Associates Ltd. now owns 79,013 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,174,000 after buying an additional 1,033 shares in the last quarter. Mastrapasqua Asset Management Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 48.5% in the fourth quarter. Mastrapasqua Asset Management Inc. now owns 77,892 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,115,000 after buying an additional 25,446 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Letko Brosseau & Associates Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 33.0% in the fourth quarter. Letko Brosseau & Associates Inc. now owns 1,958,902 shares of the company’s stock worth $103,469,000 after buying an additional 486,575 shares in the last quarter.

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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