Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the target of a large growth in short interest in August. As of August 31st, there was short interest totalling 19,177,930 shares, a growth of 27.3% from the August 15th total of 15,062,209 shares. Approximately 0.7% of the shares of the stock are short sold. Based on an average daily volume of 7,316,135 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 2.6 days.

MRK has been the topic of a number of recent research reports. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $73.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Friday, May 26th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “buy” rating and set a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & in a report on Tuesday, June 6th. Credit Suisse Group set a $72.00 price objective on Merck & and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Tuesday, June 6th. BidaskClub raised Merck & from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, June 22nd. Finally, Citigroup Inc. set a $65.00 price objective on Merck & and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 5th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Merck & currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $70.00.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc. OH raised its holdings in shares of Merck & by 133.4% in the first quarter. Fort Washington Investment Advisors Inc. OH now owns 144,247 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,165,000 after buying an additional 82,454 shares during the period. Meag Munich Ergo Kapitalanlagegesellschaft MBH grew its stake in Merck & by 41.9% in the second quarter. Meag Munich Ergo Kapitalanlagegesellschaft MBH now owns 296,294 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,028,000 after purchasing an additional 87,443 shares in the last quarter. Klingenstein Fields & Co. LLC grew its stake in Merck & by 5.4% in the first quarter. Klingenstein Fields & Co. LLC now owns 446,450 shares of the company’s stock worth $28,368,000 after purchasing an additional 22,958 shares in the last quarter. Stevens Capital Management LP bought a new position in Merck & in the first quarter worth approximately $15,126,000. Finally, Bridges Investment Management Inc. grew its stake in Merck & by 18.0% in the second quarter. Bridges Investment Management Inc. now owns 46,436 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,976,000 after purchasing an additional 7,070 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.91% of the company’s stock.

Merck & (NYSE MRK) opened at 65.13 on Friday. Merck & has a one year low of $58.29 and a one year high of $66.80. The stock has a market capitalization of $177.63 billion, a PE ratio of 35.26 and a beta of 0.81. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $63.52 and its 200-day moving average price is $63.68.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.87 by $0.14. The company had revenue of $9.93 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.75 billion. Merck & had a return on equity of 26.02% and a net margin of 17.14%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up .9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.93 earnings per share. Analysts expect that Merck & will post $3.87 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.89%. Merck &’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 76.11%.

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About Merck &

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. 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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