Merck & Co. (MRK) Raised to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Friday. The brokerage currently has a $70.00 price objective on the stock.
According to Zacks, “Merck’s efforts to expand its pipeline and focus on core areas of expertise are encouraging. New products especially Keytruda should contribute meaningfully to the top-line. Merck has also been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. Merck will also continue to look toward cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom-line. Investor focus will remain on the performance of the company’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, Zepatier, label expansion of Keytruda and business development deals. Estimates have been moving up lately ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, the top-line will remain under pressure mainly due to increased competition as well as generic competition. “
A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on MRK. Barclays PLC lifted their price target on Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 9th. Jefferies Group lifted their price target on Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, August 8th. Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $74.00 price target (up previously from $66.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, August 11th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 price target on Merck & Co. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Finally, Leerink Swann reiterated a “market perform” rating and set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Wednesday. Twelve analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €65.05 ($72.28).
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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.51 on Friday. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $62.57 and a 200 day moving average price of $58.63. Merck & Co. has a one year low of $47.97 and a one year high of $64.86. The company has a market capitalization of $172.85 billion, a PE ratio of 34.29 and a beta of 0.68.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The firm earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.86 EPS. Equities analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.46 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.94%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 101.10%.
In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of €63.03 ($70.03), for a total value of €189,090.00 ($210,100.00). The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.97), for a total value of €2,532,456.00 ($2,813,840.00). Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,894,837.90). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.
Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Acrospire Investment Management LLC increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 5.9% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,800 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 124.7% in the second quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc now owns 1,802 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Americafirst Capital Management LLC bought a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter valued at approximately $115,000. NewSquare Capital LLC increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 14.2% in the second quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 2,104 shares of the company’s stock valued at $121,000 after buying an additional 261 shares during the period. Finally, First New York Securities LLC NY bought a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter valued at approximately $121,000. 72.93% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
About Merck & Co.
Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.
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