Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has earned a consensus rating of “Hold” from the twenty-four ratings firms that are currently covering the company, MarketBeat reports. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. The average 12 month price target among brokers that have issued a report on the stock in the last year is $67.13.

A number of research firms have recently commented on MRK. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Sunday, October 29th. Berenberg Bank restated a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Wednesday, November 1st. Bank of America began coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, November 28th. They set a “buy” rating and a $64.00 price objective for the company. Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “buy” rating and set a $64.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Wednesday, November 15th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) traded up $0.42 during trading on Thursday, hitting $54.77. 16,460,830 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,724,636. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $53.63 and a one year high of $66.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a current ratio of 1.43. The firm has a market cap of $151,941.86, a P/E ratio of 14.34, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.58 and a beta of 0.76.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 11.60% and a return on equity of 27.08%. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.54 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $1.07 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be paid a $0.48 dividend. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.51%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 112.58%.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Company insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of MRK. Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 172.3% during the third quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 6,705,564 shares of the company’s stock worth $429,347,000 after acquiring an additional 4,243,246 shares during the last quarter. Capital International Investors lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 55.3% during the third quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 9,623,382 shares of the company’s stock worth $616,185,000 after acquiring an additional 3,428,400 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,442,709,000 after acquiring an additional 3,312,459 shares during the last quarter. Stifel Financial Corp lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 95,700.4% during the third quarter. Stifel Financial Corp now owns 3,281,163 shares of the company’s stock worth $210,016,000 after acquiring an additional 3,277,738 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 415.5% during the third quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 3,560,465 shares of the company’s stock worth $227,977,000 after acquiring an additional 2,869,844 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.84% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

Analyst Recommendations for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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