Centre Asset Management LLC reduced its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 5.5% during the 4th quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The fund owned 177,580 shares of the company’s stock after selling 10,270 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up approximately 3.8% of Centre Asset Management LLC’s portfolio, making the stock its 6th biggest position. Centre Asset Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $16,151,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also made changes to their positions in the company. Chicago Capital LLC raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% in the 4th quarter. Chicago Capital LLC now owns 18,220 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,657,000 after purchasing an additional 150 shares during the last quarter. Legacy Private Trust Co. raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 40.7% in the 4th quarter. Legacy Private Trust Co. now owns 7,819 shares of the company’s stock worth $711,000 after purchasing an additional 2,262 shares during the last quarter. UNIVEST FINANCIAL Corp raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 47.3% in the 4th quarter. UNIVEST FINANCIAL Corp now owns 18,308 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,078,000 after purchasing an additional 5,880 shares during the last quarter. Sabal Trust CO raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% in the 4th quarter. Sabal Trust CO now owns 384,258 shares of the company’s stock worth $34,948,000 after purchasing an additional 2,961 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Belmont Capital LLC bought a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter worth approximately $1,186,000. 74.50% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Several research analysts recently weighed in on the stock. Bank of America assumed coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Wednesday, October 16th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $90.00 price objective for the company. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and issued a $95.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Wednesday, January 8th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $96.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 10th. Royal Bank of Canada assumed coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Monday, January 6th. They issued a “sector perform” rating and a $99.00 price objective for the company. Finally, Morgan Stanley boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $90.00 to $95.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research report on Wednesday, November 13th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $95.69.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock traded up $0.42 on Tuesday, hitting $89.93. 8,230,637 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 8,754,415. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $89.62 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $85.49. The stock has a market capitalization of $227.89 billion, a PE ratio of 20.72, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.80 and a beta of 0.52. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $72.05 and a one year high of $92.64. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.84, a current ratio of 1.26 and a quick ratio of 0.98.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, October 29th. The company reported $1.51 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.24 by $0.27. The company had revenue of $12.40 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $11.59 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 20.26% and a return on equity of 48.16%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 14.9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.19 EPS. On average, analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 5.15 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 16th were given a dividend of $0.61 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.55. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, December 13th. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.71%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 56.22%.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

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

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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