Investors Buy Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) on Weakness

Traders purchased shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on weakness during trading on Thursday. $342.15 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $201.24 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $140.91 million into the stock. Of all companies tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 6th highest net in-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded down ($0.93) for the day and closed at $74.48

Several analysts have recently commented on the company. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 price objective for the company in a report on Friday, January 4th. Citigroup set a $65.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 20th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 20th. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 13th. Finally, SunTrust Banks raised their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, October 29th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $73.32.

The company has a market capitalization of $205.64 billion, a PE ratio of 18.71, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.84 and a beta of 0.67. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.15.

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

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 17th were 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 yield of 2.95%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 55.28%.

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

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 25,467 shares of the stock in a transaction dated 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 sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 82,135 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,913,720. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $73.81, for a total value of $20,510,248.99. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly 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 612,043 shares of company stock worth $45,530,574 over the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Arlington Partners LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 93.5% during the 4th quarter. Arlington Partners LLC now owns 828 shares of the company’s stock valued at $63,000 after acquiring an additional 400 shares during the period. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 86.5% during the 3rd quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 1,656 shares of the company’s stock valued at $117,000 after acquiring an additional 768 shares during the period. WESPAC Advisors SoCal LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 3rd quarter valued at about $118,000. Atlantic Trust LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter valued at about $127,000. Finally, Almanack Investment Partners LLC. acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 3rd quarter valued at about $139,000. 72.58% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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About Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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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