Argus restated their buy rating on shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) in a research report released on Wednesday morning. Argus currently has a $65.00 price objective on the stock.

Several other brokerages also recently commented on MRK. Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded Merck & Co. from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and increased their price target for the company from $62.00 to $73.00 in a report on Sunday, August 7th. Jefferies Group raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $53.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Deutsche Bank AG raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $58.00 to $59.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Piper Jaffray Cos. restated a neutral rating and issued a $62.00 price objective (up previously from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Barclays PLC raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co. from $66.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Friday, September 9th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of €63.31 ($70.34).

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.28 on Wednesday. Merck & Co. has a 12-month low of $47.97 and a 12-month high of $64.00. The firm has a market cap of $172.22 billion, a PE ratio of 34.16 and a beta of 0.63. The company has a 50 day moving average of $61.95 and a 200-day moving average of $57.17.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 EPS for the quarter, beating the 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 company had revenue of $9.84 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.79 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.86 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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

In related news, EVP Clark Golestani sold 3,000 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of €63.03 ($70.03), for a total value of €189,090.00 ($210,100.00). The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of Merck & Co. stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.61 ($69.57), for a total value of €2,454,312.00 ($2,727,013.33). Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 39,200 shares of the company’s stock, valued at €2,454,312 ($2,727,013.33). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Raymond James Trust N.A. raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 3.3% in the second quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. now owns 337,745 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,457,000 after buying an additional 10,865 shares during the last quarter. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co. during the second quarter worth approximately $274,347,000. Orbis Allan Gray Ltd purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & Co. during the first quarter worth approximately $239,761,000. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 7.0% in the first quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,107,242 shares of the company’s stock worth $58,584,000 after buying an additional 72,808 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Nordea Investment Management AB raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co. by 16.1% in the second quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 2,411,985 shares of the company’s stock worth $138,954,000 after buying an additional 334,806 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.94% of the company’s stock.

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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