Aviva PLC lowered its position in Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) by 4.9% during the second quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 1,911,453 shares of the company’s stock after selling 97,646 shares during the period. Merck & Co. makes up 0.8% of Aviva PLC’s holdings, making the stock its 24th largest position. Aviva PLC owned 0.07% of Merck & Co. worth $110,157,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other hedge funds have also bought and sold shares of MRK. Raymond James Trust N.A. increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 3.3% in the second quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. now owns 337,745 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,457,000 after buying an additional 10,865 shares during the period. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. acquired a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth about $274,347,000. Orbis Allan Gray Ltd acquired a new stake in Merck & Co. during the first quarter worth about $239,761,000. Nordea Investment Management AB increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 16.1% in the second quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 2,411,985 shares of the company’s stock worth $138,954,000 after buying an additional 334,806 shares during the period. Finally, Envestnet Asset Management Inc. increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 7.0% in the first quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,107,242 shares of the company’s stock worth $58,584,000 after buying an additional 72,808 shares during the period. 72.92% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 1.23% during trading on Wednesday, reaching $62.70. The company had a trading volume of 7,198,436 shares. The firm has a market capitalization of $173.38 billion, a PE ratio of 34.39 and a beta of 0.63. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $62.42 and a 200 day moving average price of $57.54. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $47.97 and a 12 month high of $64.00.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The business earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The firm’s revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.86 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.93%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is 101.10%.

Several brokerages have issued reports on MRK. Berenberg Bank reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $62.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Sunday, September 11th. Argus reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $65.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, September 14th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $56.00 price objective (down previously from $57.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Credit Suisse Group AG raised shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and increased their price objective for the company from $62.00 to $73.00 in a research report on Sunday, August 7th. Finally, Barclays PLC increased their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 9th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €63.31 ($70.34).

In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.61 ($69.57), for a total transaction of €2,454,312.00 ($2,727,013.33). Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at approximately €2,454,312 ($2,727,013.33). The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 50,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated Friday, July 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €57.69 ($64.10), for a total value of €2,884,500.00 ($3,205,000.00). Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 50,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €2,884,500 ($3,205,000). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Co. Company Profile

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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