Morgan Stanley set a $60.00 price objective on Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) in a research report report published on Tuesday morning. The firm currently has a a hold rating on the stock.

Several other research firms also recently weighed in on MRK. Vetr raised shares of Merck & Co. from a sell rating to a buy rating and set a $62.26 price target for the company in a research note on Monday, July 4th. Argus reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Thursday, June 9th. Jefferies Group lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, July 14th. Leerink Swann reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $58.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Thursday, July 14th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $59.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Wednesday, July 13th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of €63.31 ($70.34).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.28 on Tuesday. Merck & Co. has a 52 week low of $47.97 and a 52 week high of $64.00. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $61.95 and its 200 day moving average price is $57.17. The stock has a market capitalization of $172.22 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.16 and a beta of 0.63.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Merck & Co. had a return on equity of 23.41% and a net margin of 13.01%. The business earned $9.84 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $9.79 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $0.86 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts expect that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be issued a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.95%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 101.10%.

In other Merck & Co. news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 50,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, July 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €57.69 ($64.10), for a total value of €2,884,500.00 ($3,205,000.00). Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 50,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €2,884,500 ($3,205,000). The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 30,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, July 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of €57.49 ($63.88), for a total transaction of €1,724,700.00 ($1,916,333.33). Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 162,151 shares in the company, valued at €9,322,060.99 ($10,357,845.54). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Accredited Investors Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.3% in the first quarter. Accredited Investors Inc. now owns 9,125 shares of the company’s stock worth $483,000 after buying an additional 23 shares during the period. M. Kraus & Co increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.3% in the first quarter. M. Kraus & Co now owns 8,560 shares of the company’s stock worth $492,000 after buying an additional 25 shares during the period. Thomaspartners Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.3% in the first quarter. Thomaspartners Inc. now owns 9,024 shares of the company’s stock worth $477,000 after buying an additional 26 shares during the period. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 1.1% in the second quarter. QCI Asset Management Inc. NY now owns 2,382 shares of the company’s stock worth $137,000 after buying an additional 27 shares during the period. Finally, Vicus Capital increased its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 0.3% in the first quarter. Vicus Capital now owns 11,121 shares of the company’s stock worth $588,000 after buying an additional 37 shares during the period. 72.94% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Merck & Co.

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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