Becker Capital Management Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.6% in the third quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 577,663 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 9,275 shares during the quarter. Becker Capital Management Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $36,988,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A number of other large investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,442,709,000 after buying an additional 3,312,459 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,997,390 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,856,484,000 after buying an additional 1,834,500 shares during the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% in the second quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 27,019,572 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,731,684,000 after buying an additional 801,033 shares during the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the second quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 14,564,388 shares of the company’s stock worth $933,445,000 after buying an additional 192,348 shares during the last quarter. Finally, FMR LLC increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 13,134,739 shares of the company’s stock worth $841,805,000 after buying an additional 171,411 shares during the last quarter. 73.63% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

MRK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. Jefferies Group reiterated a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, October 20th. Leerink Swann reduced their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $69.00 and set a “market perform” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Citigroup upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. to a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Finally, SunTrust Banks cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $66.29.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total transaction of $281,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) opened at $56.66 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $154,530.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 55.01, a PEG ratio of 2.84 and a beta of 0.76. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.63 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 1.43 and a quick ratio of 1.16.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.54 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a negative return on equity of 0.58% and a negative net margin of 0.49%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.07 earnings per share. analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th were paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, December 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.39%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 186.41%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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 & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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