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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) have been given an average rating of “Hold” by the eighteen ratings firms that are currently covering the company, Analyst RN reports. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a hold recommendation and seven have issued a buy recommendation on the company. The average 1-year target price among brokerages that have covered the stock in the last year is $60.80.

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.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 60.11 on Wednesday. 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 $58.13 and a 200-day moving average of $57.22. The company has a market cap of $173.4 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.61. Merck & Co. also saw a large decline in short interest in the month of August. As of August 15th, there was short interest totalling 27,776,659 shares, a decline of 17.1% from the July 31st total of 33,501,461 shares. Currently, 1.0% of the shares of the company are short sold. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 8,604,040 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 3.2 days.

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. 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.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 22,000 shares of the stock 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 transaction 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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