Covington Capital Management grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.4% in the second quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm owned 184,303 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 2,514 shares during the period. Covington Capital Management’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $11,812,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Perennial Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% during the 2nd quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC now owns 1,626 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 157 shares during the period. Stelac Advisory Services LLC bought a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter worth about $104,000. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 15.5% during the 2nd quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,727 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 232 shares during the period. Solaris Asset Management LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 6.3% during the 2nd quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,940 shares of the company’s stock worth $124,000 after buying an additional 115 shares during the period. Finally, Harbour Capital Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 1st quarter worth about $127,000. 73.84% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Several analysts recently commented on the stock. Barclays downgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and reduced their target price for the stock from $72.00 to $62.00 in a report on Monday, October 30th. UBS reduced their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $72.00 to $67.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a report on Monday, October 30th. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 11th. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Sunday, October 29th. Finally, Leerink Swann cut their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $69.00 and set a “market perform” rating for the company in a 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’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.29.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded up $0.73 during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $57.07. 13,792,700 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,744,769. The company has a quick ratio of 1.16, a current ratio of 1.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. The company has a market cap of $153,522.02, a P/E ratio of 14.49, a P/E/G ratio of 2.61 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.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.54 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 11.60% and a return on equity of 27.08%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $1.07 EPS. research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 15th will be given a $0.48 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.36%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 112.58%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

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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.

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

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