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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) have earned a consensus rating of “Hold” from the eighteen analysts that are currently covering the company, AmericanBankingNews.com reports. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating on the company. The average twelve-month target price among brokerages that have issued a report on the stock in the last year is $60.80.

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 60.32 on Wednesday. Merck & Co. has a 52 week low of $44.62 and a 52 week high of $60.40. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $58.01 and its 200-day moving average is $57.12. The company has a market cap of $174.0 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.72. Merck & Co. also was the target of some unusual options trading on Monday. Traders bought 5,003 put options on the company. This is an increase of approximately 111% compared to the average volume of 2,366 put options.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 29th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $10.93 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.60 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.84 earnings per share. Merck & Co.’s revenue was down .7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts predict that Merck & Co. will post $3.49 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 7th. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.44 per share. This represents a $1.76 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.92%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 11th.

Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Deutsche Bank initiated coverage on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday. They set a “hold” rating and a $63.00 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Zacks reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Monday, August 18th. They now have a $62.00 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at Jefferies Group cut their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $63.00 to $60.00 in a research note on Monday, August 11th. They now have a “hold” rating on the stock.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 22,000 shares of the stock on the open market in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.70, for a total transaction of $1,313,400.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link.

Merck & Co, Inc (NYSE:MRK), is a global health care company that delivers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures.

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