Hudock Capital Group LLC increased its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 8.6% in the third quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 42,637 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 3,372 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for 1.2% of Hudock Capital Group LLC’s investment portfolio, making the stock its 21st largest position. Hudock Capital Group LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $3,024,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Rockland Trust Co. purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter valued at about $3,949,000. Sawyer & Company Inc increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% during the 2nd quarter. Sawyer & Company Inc now owns 22,984 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,395,000 after acquiring an additional 2,215 shares in the last quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 37.0% during the 2nd quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC now owns 122,748 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,451,000 after acquiring an additional 33,153 shares in the last quarter. Jennison Associates LLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 11.0% during the 2nd quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 924,946 shares of the company’s stock valued at $56,144,000 after acquiring an additional 91,879 shares in the last quarter. Finally, HL Financial Services LLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.7% during the 2nd quarter. HL Financial Services LLC now owns 217,281 shares of the company’s stock valued at $13,189,000 after acquiring an additional 1,540 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.32% of the company’s stock.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, insider Roger M. Perlmutter sold 225,443 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.27, for a total transaction of $16,969,094.61. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 366,998 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $27,623,939.46. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total transaction of $7,534,524.80. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 100,000 shares in the company, valued at $7,018,000. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 1,279,104 shares of company stock worth $92,845,846 over the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several research firms have weighed in on MRK. Citigroup raised their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 31st. SunTrust Banks raised their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, October 29th. Wolfe Research began coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. BMO Capital Markets raised their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, October 22nd. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, October 18th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $71.92.

Merck & Co., Inc. stock opened at $74.86 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $52.83 and a 12-month high of $75.99. The stock has a market cap of $202.43 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.54, a PEG ratio of 2.04 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a current ratio of 1.44.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.48%. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.87 billion. As a group, 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 has initiated a stock buyback program on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.94%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 48.24%.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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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