Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Stake Decreased by Highland Capital Management LLC

Highland Capital Management LLC decreased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 15.2% during the 4th quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 472,834 shares of the company’s stock after selling 84,876 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up about 3.1% of Highland Capital Management LLC’s portfolio, making the stock its 2nd biggest holding. Highland Capital Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $36,129,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Other hedge funds have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Third Point LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the third quarter valued at about $319,230,000. Chemung Canal Trust Co. increased its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 82.2% during the third quarter. Chemung Canal Trust Co. now owns 107,279 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,610,000 after purchasing an additional 48,395 shares during the period. Port Capital LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the third quarter worth about $1,028,000. PointState Capital LP purchased a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the third quarter worth about $8,513,000. Finally, Worldquant Millennium Quantitative Strategies LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the second quarter worth about $23,693,000. 74.29% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

A number of analysts have issued reports on MRK shares. BMO Capital Markets lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 price target on the stock. in a research note on Wednesday, January 23rd. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 16th. SunTrust Banks boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, October 29th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, December 20th. Finally, Citigroup set a $79.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 16th. Six analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $73.15.

In other news, Director Leslie A. Brun sold 3,052 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.22, for a total value of $235,675.44. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 5,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $386,100. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.96, for a total value of $759,600.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 244,618 shares of company stock worth $19,075,949 over the last quarter. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock opened at $76.71 on Tuesday. The company has a market capitalization of $209.01 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.68, a P/E/G ratio of 2.05 and a beta of 0.62. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $80.19. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a current ratio of 1.44.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.93 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 35.10%. The firm’s revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.98 earnings per share. Analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 15th will be paid a $0.55 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.87%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 50.69%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has authorized a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

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