Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Shares Sold by Louisiana State Employees Retirement System

Louisiana State Employees Retirement System lessened its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.7% in the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 155,600 shares of the company’s stock after selling 2,700 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. comprises about 0.5% of Louisiana State Employees Retirement System’s investment portfolio, making the stock its 27th largest position. Louisiana State Employees Retirement System’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $11,038,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Other large investors also recently modified their holdings of the company. Taylor Wealth Management Partners acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth $110,000. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 155.2% in the second quarter. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV now owns 1,832 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after purchasing an additional 1,114 shares during the period. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 86.5% in the third quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 1,656 shares of the company’s stock worth $117,000 after purchasing an additional 768 shares during the period. Atlantic Trust LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth $127,000. Finally, Norway Savings Bank acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth $132,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.32% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities analysts have commented on MRK shares. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, October 16th. Barclays lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, September 7th. SunTrust Banks reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $77.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Thursday, August 16th. Guggenheim began coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Monday, October 8th. They issued a “buy” rating for the company. Finally, Credit Suisse Group boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $71.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, October 11th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $71.92.

In related news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total value of $7,534,524.80. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $7,018,000. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $73.81, for a total transaction of $20,510,248.99. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 277,879 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $20,510,248.99. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846. Corporate insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

Shares of MRK opened at $74.86 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $52.83 and a 1 year high of $75.99. The firm has a market cap of $202.43 billion, a PE ratio of 17.54, a PEG ratio of 2.04 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.04.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.48%. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.87 billion. On average, analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.94%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has authorized a stock repurchase program on Thursday, October 25th that authorizes the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to reacquire up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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