Merck & Co. (MRK) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.
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 mixed 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. “
MRK has been the subject of several other research reports. Citigroup Inc. reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $65.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, August 10th. BMO Capital Markets upgraded Merck & Co. from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and lifted their price objective for the company from $62.00 to $72.00 in a research note on Friday, August 5th. Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 price objective on Merck & Co. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, September 13th. Bank of America Corp. upgraded Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and lifted their price objective for the company from $57.00 to $70.00 in a research note on Thursday. Finally, Vetr upgraded Merck & Co. from a “sell” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $62.26 price objective for the company in a research note on Monday, July 4th. Thirteen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of €65.58 ($72.10).
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Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.11% during trading on Monday, hitting $61.45. 6,559,605 shares of the stock traded hands. The company has a market cap of $169.92 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.71 and a beta of 0.68. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $47.97 and a 12 month high of $64.86. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $62.56 and its 200 day moving average price is $58.70.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The company earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.86 EPS. Merck & Co.’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current fiscal year.
The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th were paid a $0.46 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.96%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 101.10%.
In related news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of €61.81 ($67.96), for a total value of €24,229,520.00 ($26,640,483.78). Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at €47,029,807.37 ($51,709,518.82). The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.25), for a total value of €2,532,456.00 ($2,784,448.60). Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,801,928.65). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. 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 worth $104,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the last quarter. 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 worth $104,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. Americafirst Capital Management LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth 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 worth $121,000 after buying an additional 261 shares during the last quarter. Finally, First New York Securities LLC NY purchased a new stake in Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $121,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.93% of the company’s stock.
Merck & Co. Company Profile
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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