Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK)’s share price traded down 1.1% during trading on Monday . The company traded as low as $61.46 and last traded at $61.59, with a volume of 4,291,786 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $62.28.

A number of equities analysts recently commented on the company. Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and lifted their price target for the stock from $62.00 to $73.00 in a report on Sunday, August 7th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $62.00 price target (up previously from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, August 8th. Deutsche Bank AG lifted their price target on Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Jefferies Group lifted their price target on Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Barclays PLC lifted their price target on Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, September 9th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €63.31 ($70.34).

The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $62.42 and a 200-day moving average price of $57.54. The company has a market cap of $171.28 billion, a PE ratio of 33.98 and a beta of 0.63.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last released its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.01% and a return on equity of 23.41%. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.86 EPS. The company’s revenue was up .6% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts expect 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 dividend of $0.46 per share. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.97%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 101.10%.

In other news, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of €63.03 ($70.03), for a total transaction of €189,090.00 ($210,100.00). The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of €61.81 ($68.68), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,921,688.89). Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 760,877 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €47,029,807.37 ($52,255,341.52). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co. by 1.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 174,819,694 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,071,362,000 after buying an additional 3,242,254 shares during the period. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. increased its position in Merck & Co. by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 74,363,785 shares of the company’s stock valued at $4,284,098,000 after buying an additional 535,407 shares during the period. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its position in Merck & Co. by 4.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 44,732,600 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,577,045,000 after buying an additional 1,701,520 shares during the period. BlackRock Group LTD increased its position in Merck & Co. by 2.0% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 27,068,748 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,432,206,000 after buying an additional 525,220 shares during the period. Finally, Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA increased its position in Merck & Co. by 6.2% in the second quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA now owns 26,224,184 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,510,776,000 after buying an additional 1,531,565 shares during the period. 72.92% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other 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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:MRK

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