Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Stake Lessened by Stratos Wealth Partners LTD.

Stratos Wealth Partners LTD. decreased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 10.2% in the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 55,395 shares of the company’s stock after selling 6,322 shares during the quarter. Stratos Wealth Partners LTD.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $3,930,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently bought and sold shares of the company. Prentiss Smith & Co. Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 17.1% in the 3rd quarter. Prentiss Smith & Co. Inc. now owns 4,793 shares of the company’s stock worth $340,000 after buying an additional 700 shares during the last quarter. Boyd Watterson Asset Management LLC OH boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.4% in the 3rd quarter. Boyd Watterson Asset Management LLC OH now owns 31,345 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,224,000 after buying an additional 725 shares during the last quarter. Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blaney LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.9% in the 3rd quarter. Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blaney LLC now owns 16,310 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,157,000 after buying an additional 756 shares during the last quarter. Institute for Wealth Management LLC. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 7.4% in the 3rd quarter. Institute for Wealth Management LLC. now owns 11,084 shares of the company’s stock worth $778,000 after buying an additional 759 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Chase Investment Counsel Corp boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 14.7% in the 3rd quarter. Chase Investment Counsel Corp now owns 5,933 shares of the company’s stock worth $420,000 after buying an additional 762 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.72% of the company’s stock.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,851 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.08, for a total transaction of $19,611,958.08. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 971,801 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $68,103,814.08. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. acquired 666,666 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 1st. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $9,999,990.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock worth $92,845,846. Insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

A number of brokerages recently weighed in on MRK. Citigroup boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 31st. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, October 22nd. ValuEngine raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, October 18th. Wolfe Research assumed coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They issued an “outperform” rating on the stock. Finally, SunTrust Banks upped their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, October 29th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.65.

NYSE MRK opened at $76.72 on Friday. The stock has a market cap of $211.30 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.28, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.13 and a beta of 0.71. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $80.19. The company has a current ratio of 1.44, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61.

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

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share repurchase program on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are usually an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, December 14th. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.87%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is 48.24%.

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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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