Assenagon Asset Management S.A. Takes $46.72 Million Position in Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Assenagon Asset Management S.A. acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) during the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The fund acquired 729,590 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $46,716,000.

A number of other hedge funds also recently added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,442,709,000 after buying an additional 3,312,459 shares in the last quarter. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 71.5% during the second quarter. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership now owns 6,281,855 shares of the company’s stock worth $402,604,000 after buying an additional 2,618,435 shares in the last quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 40.4% during the second quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 8,012,726 shares of the company’s stock worth $513,535,000 after buying an additional 2,304,142 shares in the last quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 70.4% during the first quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board now owns 5,568,791 shares of the company’s stock worth $353,841,000 after buying an additional 2,300,200 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 36.3% during the second quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 7,766,906 shares of the company’s stock worth $497,774,000 after buying an additional 2,070,487 shares in the last quarter. 73.63% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) opened at $56.23 on Wednesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 1.43 and a quick ratio of 1.16. The firm has a market cap of $153,222.34, a P/E ratio of 14.46, a PEG ratio of 2.90 and a beta of 0.76. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.63 and a 52-week high of $66.80.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.08. The business had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.54 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 11.60% and a return on equity of 27.08%. The company’s revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $1.07 earnings per share. analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 15th will be given a $0.48 dividend. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.41%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 14th. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is currently 114.97%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has authorized a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of analysts recently commented on MRK shares. Credit Suisse Group decreased their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $75.00 to $74.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, August 30th. Cowen restated a “hold” rating and set a $70.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, September 1st. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, September 8th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. Finally, Citigroup upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price for the company in a research report on Wednesday, October 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.29.

In other news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

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

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