Investors sold shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on strength during trading hours on Friday. $81.37 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $207.52 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $126.15 million out of the stock. Of all equities tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 4th highest net out-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded up $0.29 for the day and closed at $69.67

MRK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 16th. TheStreet raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “c+” rating to a “b-” rating in a research note on Friday, June 8th. Jefferies Financial Group reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $59.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Sunday, July 15th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Sunday, July 22nd. Finally, Bank of America lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, July 30th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $67.93.

The company has a current ratio of 1.33, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. The company has a market capitalization of $185.01 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.32, a PEG ratio of 2.37 and a beta of 0.81.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $1.06 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.03. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 3.67% and a return on equity of 32.68%. The firm had revenue of $10.47 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.28 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $1.01 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.26 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 5th. Investors of record on Monday, September 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 14th. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.76%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 48.24%.

In related news, insider Sanat Chattopadhyay sold 29,208 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.20, for a total transaction of $1,904,361.60. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 70,675 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,608,010. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, VP Rita A. Karachun sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.01, for a total transaction of $325,050.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 396,393 shares of company stock valued at $25,235,061. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 185,546,933 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,262,699,000 after buying an additional 831,243 shares in the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 13.6% during the 1st quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 49,101,614 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,674,552,000 after buying an additional 5,880,457 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% during the 2nd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,346,241,000 after buying an additional 3,242,430 shares in the last quarter. Morgan Stanley lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 15,905,834 shares of the company’s stock valued at $965,485,000 after buying an additional 149,438 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. lifted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 19.5% during the 2nd quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 14,733,548 shares of the company’s stock valued at $894,326,000 after buying an additional 2,406,836 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.20% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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