Traders sold shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on strength during trading hours on Thursday following insider selling activity. $75.80 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $149.53 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $73.73 million out of the stock. Of all equities tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 0th highest net out-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded up $0.44 for the day and closed at $81.49Specifically, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 18,725 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, March 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $82.00, for a total transaction of $1,535,450.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 816,440 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $66,948,080. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, February 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.96, for a total transaction of $759,600.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 709,324 shares of company stock valued at $56,162,582 over the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

Several research analysts recently issued reports on the stock. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Tuesday, February 19th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “strong-buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, January 24th. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 13th. Citigroup set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, December 20th. Finally, Cantor Fitzgerald reissued a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Monday, March 4th. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $77.06.

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 capitalization of $219.17 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.78, a PEG ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.62.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 36.83%. The company had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.93 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.98 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the business. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% in the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 53,150,490 shares of the company’s stock valued at $696,000 after purchasing an additional 52,855,811 shares during the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 184,252.6% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,985,039 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,765,600,000 after purchasing an additional 38,963,892 shares during the last quarter. Norges Bank acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $2,166,688,000. Capital International Investors grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 178.2% in the third quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 32,984,606 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,339,928,000 after purchasing an additional 21,127,887 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Jennison Associates LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 323.1% in the fourth quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 15,777,286 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,205,542,000 after purchasing an additional 12,048,406 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.55% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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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