Merck & Co. (MRK) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday morning. The firm currently has $70.00 price target on the stock.
According to Zacks, “Merck’s efforts to expand its pipeline and focus on core areas of expertise are encouraging. New products especially Keytruda should contribute meaningfully to the top-line. Merck has also been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. Merck will also continue to look toward cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom-line. Investor focus will remain on the performance of the company’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, Zepatier, label expansion of Keytruda and business development deals. Estimates have been moving up lately ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, the top-line will remain under pressure mainly due to increased competition as well as generic competition. “
MRK has been the subject of several other research reports. Bank of America Corp. upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a neutral rating to a buy rating and lifted their price target for the stock from $57.00 to $70.00 in a research report on Thursday. Berenberg Bank reiterated a hold rating and set a $62.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Sunday, September 11th. Argus reiterated a buy rating and set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, September 14th. Jefferies Group reiterated a hold rating and set a $56.00 price target (down previously from $57.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Finally, Barclays PLC reiterated an overweight rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday, October 12th. Twelve investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of €65.58 ($72.87).
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.29% during midday trading on Friday, reaching $61.34. 4,834,894 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $62.56 and its 200 day moving average is $58.70. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $47.97 and a 1-year high of $64.86. The stock has a market cap of $169.62 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.65 and a beta of 0.68.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 EPS for the quarter, topping the 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 company earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.86 EPS. Merck & Co.’s revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.96%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 101.10%.
In other Merck & Co. news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of €61.81 ($68.68), for a total value of €24,229,520.00 ($26,921,688.89). Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at €47,029,807.37 ($52,255,341.52). The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.97), for a total transaction of €2,532,456.00 ($2,813,840.00). Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,894,837.90). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.
Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Acrospire Investment Management LLC increased its position in Merck & Co. by 5.9% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,800 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased its position in Merck & Co. by 124.7% in the second quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc now owns 1,802 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares in the last quarter. Americafirst Capital Management LLC bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the second quarter valued at approximately $115,000. First New York Securities LLC NY bought a new position in Merck & Co. during the second quarter valued at approximately $121,000. Finally, NewSquare Capital LLC increased its position in Merck & Co. by 14.2% in the second quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 2,104 shares of the company’s stock valued at $121,000 after buying an additional 261 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.93% 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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