Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC lessened its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 6.0% during the 3rd quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 682,675 shares of the company’s stock after selling 43,645 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for approximately 0.9% of Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC’s portfolio, making the stock its 23rd largest holding. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $43,712,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also made changes to their positions in the business. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% in the third quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 846,793 shares of the company’s stock valued at $54,220,000 after purchasing an additional 7,123 shares in the last quarter. Valeo Financial Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the third quarter valued at about $1,675,000. Cambria Investment Management L.P. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 6.8% in the third quarter. Cambria Investment Management L.P. now owns 78,920 shares of the company’s stock valued at $5,053,000 after purchasing an additional 5,030 shares in the last quarter. Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 18.8% in the third quarter. Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC now owns 62,420 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,997,000 after purchasing an additional 9,900 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Cedar Hill Associates LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the third quarter valued at about $386,000. 73.24% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, January 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $290,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 101,484 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,886,072. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, January 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total transaction of $3,697,800.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $6,254,458.92. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 82,500 shares of company stock valued at $5,026,025 in the last ninety days. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) opened at $54.87 on Friday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 1.43 and a quick ratio of 1.16. The firm has a market cap of $149,490.00, a P/E ratio of 59.00, a PEG ratio of 2.51 and a beta of 0.75. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.36 and a 52-week high of $66.80.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.04. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 6.40% and a return on equity of 27.73%. The firm had revenue of $10.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.48 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $0.89 earnings per share. Merck & Co., Inc.’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.15 EPS for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 6th. Investors of record on Thursday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.50%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 206.45%.

Several analysts have issued reports on MRK shares. Cowen reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $70.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Friday, November 3rd. BMO Capital Markets set a $68.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, December 13th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, October 29th. ValuEngine raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 10th. Finally, Jefferies Group reissued a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, October 20th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.88.

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Merck & Co., Inc. 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. 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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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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