Level Four Advisory Services LLC increased its stake in Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 10.9% during the first quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 37,895 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 3,726 shares during the period. Level Four Advisory Services LLC’s holdings in Merck & were worth $2,409,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

A number of other large investors also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Empire Life Investments Inc. bought a new stake in Merck & during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $12,604,000. Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. raised its stake in Merck & by 3.9% in the fourth quarter. Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. now owns 26,868 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,582,000 after buying an additional 1,008 shares in the last quarter. Clough Capital Partners L P bought a new stake in Merck & during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $18,173,000. Bridgeworth LLC bought a new stake in Merck & during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $241,000. Finally, CAMG Solamere Management LLC bought a new stake in Merck & during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $789,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.73% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Merck & Company, Inc. (MRK) traded up 0.32% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $62.38. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 6,050,985 shares. Merck & Company, Inc. has a 1-year low of $58.29 and a 1-year high of $66.80. The firm has a market capitalization of $170.13 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.77 and a beta of 0.80. The company’s 50-day moving average is $63.36 and its 200 day moving average is $63.80.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.14. Merck & had a return on equity of 26.02% and a net margin of 17.14%. The firm had revenue of $9.93 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.75 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $0.93 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up .9% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts expect that Merck & Company, Inc. will post $3.87 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.01%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. Merck &’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 76.11%.

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Several research firms have commented on MRK. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & in a research report on Tuesday, June 27th. BidaskClub raised Merck & from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, June 22nd. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $73.00 target price for the company in a research note on Friday, May 26th. Credit Suisse Group set a $72.00 target price on Merck & and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, June 6th. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $51.00 target price on shares of Merck & in a research note on Wednesday, May 24th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $69.58.

Merck & Company 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 & (NYSE:MRK)

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