Global Trust Asset Management LLC lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 34.6% during the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 12,027 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 3,094 shares during the quarter. Global Trust Asset Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $853,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently modified their holdings of MRK. Principal Financial Group Inc. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.0% during the first quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 7,202,189 shares of the company’s stock worth $392,303,000 after acquiring an additional 209,459 shares during the last quarter. Tiemann Investment Advisors LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 14.7% during the first quarter. Tiemann Investment Advisors LLC now owns 12,166 shares of the company’s stock worth $663,000 after acquiring an additional 1,559 shares during the last quarter. Green Square Capital LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 12.4% during the first quarter. Green Square Capital LLC now owns 143,905 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,906,000 after acquiring an additional 15,850 shares during the last quarter. Crawford Investment Counsel Inc. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.7% during the first quarter. Crawford Investment Counsel Inc. now owns 1,442,664 shares of the company’s stock worth $78,582,000 after acquiring an additional 65,270 shares during the last quarter. Finally, A.R.T. Advisors LLC bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the first quarter worth about $4,187,000. 72.32% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total value of $7,534,524.80. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,018,000. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Ashley Watson sold 47,036 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, October 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $74.33, for a total transaction of $3,496,185.88. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 32,990 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,452,146.70. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846 over the last three months. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Shares of MRK opened at $74.86 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $197.66 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.81, a P/E/G ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.33 and a quick ratio of 1.04. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $52.83 and a 52-week high of $75.99.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.20%. The firm had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Equities research analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to repurchase up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are generally a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.94%. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 48.24%.

Several research firms have recently commented on MRK. Wolfe Research started coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $70.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Sunday, July 22nd. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $79.00 target price for the company in a research report on Wednesday, September 26th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 18th. Finally, Citigroup increased their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 31st. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $71.92.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

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

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