Zacks Investment Research Lowers Merck & Co. (MRK) to Hold
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a 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. “
A number of other research firms have also recently weighed in on MRK. Vetr cut shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $64.84 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Monday, October 10th. Jefferies Group upped their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Deutsche Bank AG upped their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, August 8th. Piper Jaffray Cos. restated a “neutral” rating and issued a $62.00 price target (up from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded shares of Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating and upped their price target for the stock from $62.00 to $73.00 in a report on Sunday, August 7th. Thirteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of €65.58 ($72.06).
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Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.0996% on Monday, reaching $61.4567. 6,706,514 shares of the company were exchanged. The company has a market capitalization of $169.94 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 33.7118 and a beta of 0.68. The company’s 50-day moving average is $62.56 and its 200-day moving average is $58.70. Merck & Co. has a 52 week low of $47.97 and a 52 week high of $64.86.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.01% and a return on equity of 23.41%. The business had revenue of $9.84 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $0.86 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up .6% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts expect 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 issued a $0.46 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.96%. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 101.10%.
In related news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €62.61 ($68.80), for a total value of €2,454,312.00 ($2,697,046.15). Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 39,200 shares in the company, valued at approximately €2,454,312 ($2,697,046.15). The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 392,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of €61.81 ($67.92), for a total transaction of €24,229,520.00 ($26,625,846.15). Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now owns 760,877 shares in the company, valued at approximately €47,029,807.37 ($51,681,107). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of MRK. Brick & Kyle Associates increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 4.4% in the first quarter. Brick & Kyle Associates now owns 41,326 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,187,000 after buying an additional 1,725 shares during the period. Godsey & Gibb Associates boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.2% in the first quarter. Godsey & Gibb Associates now owns 220,556 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,670,000 after buying an additional 2,591 shares during the last quarter. CIBC World Markets Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 12.5% in the first quarter. CIBC World Markets Inc. now owns 145,507 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,699,000 after buying an additional 16,115 shares during the last quarter. Bowling Portfolio Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 25.1% in the first quarter. Bowling Portfolio Management LLC now owns 37,262 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,972,000 after buying an additional 7,484 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Middleton & Co Inc MA boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 3.0% in the first quarter. Middleton & Co Inc MA now owns 185,147 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,796,000 after buying an additional 5,465 shares during the last quarter. 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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