Markston International LLC trimmed its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 2.4% during the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 95,403 shares of the company’s stock after selling 2,377 shares during the quarter. Markston International LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $6,768,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

A number of other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently modified their holdings of MRK. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in shares of 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 acquiring an additional 831,243 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its position in shares of 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 acquiring an additional 3,242,430 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley lifted its position in shares of 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 acquiring an additional 149,438 shares during the period. Macquarie Group Ltd. lifted its position in shares of 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 acquiring an additional 2,406,836 shares during the period. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 41.8% during the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 12,486,915 shares of the company’s stock valued at $757,959,000 after acquiring an additional 3,682,328 shares during the period. 72.67% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Shares of MRK stock opened at $76.48 on Friday. 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. has a twelve month low of $52.83 and a twelve month high of $80.19. The firm has a market cap of $206.20 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.87, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.08 and a beta of 0.71.

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

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are often an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Investors of record on Monday, December 17th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.88%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 48.24%.

In related news, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 25,467 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $72.00, for a total transaction of $1,833,624.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 82,135 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,913,720. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 36,218 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.14, for a total value of $2,721,420.52. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 82,481 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $6,197,622.34. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of research firms have recently weighed in on MRK. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 16th. Citigroup set a $79.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 16th. Barclays upped their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 7th. Finally, Wolfe Research began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $74.07.

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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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