Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 18,725 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, March 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $82.00, for a total value of $1,535,450.00. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 816,440 shares in the company, valued at $66,948,080. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website.

NYSE:MRK opened at $81.57 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $82.12. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74, a quick ratio of 0.92 and a current ratio of 1.17. The stock has a market cap of $219.71 billion, a PE ratio of 18.79, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.62.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 36.83% and a net margin of 14.71%. The firm had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.93 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.98 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.70%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 50.69%.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Handelsbanken Fonder AB boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 49.6% in the 3rd quarter. Handelsbanken Fonder AB now owns 745,000 shares of the company’s stock worth $52,850,000 after buying an additional 247,000 shares during the last quarter. Polaris Greystone Financial Group LLC lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 2,156.5% in the 3rd quarter. Polaris Greystone Financial Group LLC now owns 4,513 shares of the company’s stock worth $320,000 after purchasing an additional 4,313 shares in the last quarter. American Financial Network Advisory Services LLC lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 34,681.8% in the 3rd quarter. American Financial Network Advisory Services LLC now owns 3,826 shares of the company’s stock worth $273,000 after purchasing an additional 3,815 shares in the last quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 141.5% in the 3rd quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC now owns 564,548 shares of the company’s stock worth $8,777,000 after purchasing an additional 330,735 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Carlson Capital Management purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $226,000. Institutional investors own 72.55% of the company’s stock.

Several equities research analysts have weighed in on MRK shares. BMO Capital Markets downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 price target on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, January 23rd. Argus increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. to $95.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, February 20th. Cantor Fitzgerald started coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, February 22nd. They set an “overweight” rating and a $95.00 price target on the stock. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Finally, Citigroup set a $65.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $77.06.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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