Ashford Capital Management Inc. continued to hold its position in shares of Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) during the first quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The fund owned 5,400 shares of the company’s stock at the end of the first quarter. Ashford Capital Management Inc.’s holdings in Merck & were worth $343,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently modified their holdings of MRK. Vigilant Capital Management LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & by 16.7% in the first quarter. Vigilant Capital Management LLC now owns 1,746 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 250 shares during the period. Harbour Capital Advisors LLC purchased a new position in shares of Merck & during the first quarter worth about $127,000. Gradient Investments LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & by 41.3% in the first quarter. Gradient Investments LLC now owns 2,306 shares of the company’s stock worth $147,000 after buying an additional 674 shares during the period. Pinnacle Bank purchased a new position in shares of Merck & during the first quarter worth about $152,000. Finally, Tortoise Investment Management LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & by 50.6% in the fourth quarter. Tortoise Investment Management LLC now owns 2,678 shares of the company’s stock worth $158,000 after buying an additional 900 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.46% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 0.87% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $62.92. 1,191,986 shares of the stock traded hands. Merck & Company, Inc. has a 52-week low of $58.29 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $63.36 and its 200 day moving average is $63.80. The firm has a market cap of $171.61 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.07 and a beta of 0.80.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.14. Merck & had a return on equity of 26.02% and a net margin of 17.14%. The firm had revenue of $9.93 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.75 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.93 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up .9% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts predict that Merck & Company, Inc. will post $3.87 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.01%. Merck &’s payout ratio is presently 76.11%.

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A number of brokerages have recently issued reports on MRK. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. HSBC Holdings plc upgraded shares of Merck & from a “reduce” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 9th. UBS AG lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & from $70.00 to $72.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, July 31st. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & in a research note on Tuesday, June 6th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective (up previously from $70.00) on shares of Merck & in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $69.58.

About Merck &

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. 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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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & (NYSE:MRK)

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