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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) were the target of unusually large options trading on Thursday. Stock traders acquired 7,944 call options on the company, AmericanBankingNews.com reports. This represents an increase of approximately 106% compared to the typical daily volume of 3,860 call options.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 22,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock on the open market in a transaction dated Monday, August 25th. The stock was 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.

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. They noted that the move was a valuation call. 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. Eight equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $60.80.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 0.46% during mid-day trading on Thursday, hitting $60.00. 5,224,822 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Merck & Co. has a 1-year low of $44.62 and a 1-year high of $60.58. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $58.05 and a 200-day moving average of $57.16. The company has a market cap of $173.1 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.76.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, July 29th. The company reported $0.85 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the 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 in the previous year, the company posted $0.84 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down .7% on a year-over-year basis. 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. Stockholders 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 2.93%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 11th.

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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