Media coverage about Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has been trending positive recently, InfoTrie Sentiment Analysis reports. The research group identifies negative and positive news coverage by analyzing more than 6,000 blog and news sources. The firm ranks coverage of companies on a scale of -5 to 5, with scores nearest to five being the most favorable. Merck & Co., Inc. earned a daily sentiment score of 2.32 on their scale. InfoTrie also gave press coverage about the company an news buzz score of 4 out of 10, indicating that recent news coverage is somewhat unlikely to have an effect on the company’s share price in the near term.

These are some of the media stories that may have effected Merck & Co., Inc.’s ranking:

MRK stock traded up $1.22 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $76.06. The company had a trading volume of 13,527,455 shares, compared to its average volume of 14,536,856. The stock has a market cap of $205.07 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.11, a PEG ratio of 2.07 and a beta of 0.73. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $52.83 and a 12-month high of $76.25. The company has a quick ratio of 1.15, a current ratio of 1.44 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.48%. On average, analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.89%. This is a boost 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 currently 48.24%.

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

MRK has been the topic of several research analyst reports. Citigroup set a $79.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 16th. Morgan Stanley set a $74.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, August 23rd. SunTrust Banks reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $77.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Thursday, August 16th. Bank of America boosted their price target 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. Finally, BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $70.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Sunday, July 22nd. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $72.53.

In other 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 transaction of $7,534,524.80. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 100,000 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,018,000. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $73.81, for a total transaction of $20,510,248.99. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 277,879 shares in the company, valued at $20,510,248.99. 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 90 days. Corporate insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

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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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