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Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) hit a new 52-week high during mid-day trading on Thursday , ARN reports. The company traded as high as $61.00 and last traded at $60.59, with a volume of 4,260,913 shares. The stock had previously closed at $60.48.

A number of research firms have recently commented on MRK. Analysts at Deutsche Bank initiated coverage on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, August 27th. 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 issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co. presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $60.80.

The stock has a 50-day moving average of $58.24 and a 200-day moving average of $57.31. The company has a market cap of $174.4 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.87. Merck & Co. also was the recipient of a significant decline in short interest during 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. Based on an average trading volume of 8,604,040 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 3.2 days. Approximately 1.0% of the shares of the company are sold short.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, July 29th. The company reported $0.85 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters 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 prior year, the company posted $0.84 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue 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 2.91%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 11th.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 22,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock on the open market in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.70, for a total transaction of $1,313,400.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at 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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