BMO Capital Markets set a $68.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) in a report published on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a buy rating on the stock.

Other research analysts also recently issued reports about the company. Morgan Stanley downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from an overweight rating to an equal weight rating and set a $56.00 target price on the stock. in a research note on Monday, October 30th. UBS Group lowered their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $72.00 to $67.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a research note on Monday, October 30th. Citigroup upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $72.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. Jefferies Group downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a hold rating to an underperform rating in a research note on Wednesday, November 1st. Finally, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 17th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $67.06.

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) traded up $0.15 on Tuesday, reaching $61.28. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 12,125,509 shares, compared to its average volume of 15,188,415. The firm has a market capitalization of $167,130.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 59.50, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.10 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. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a current ratio of 1.43.

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

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has authorized a share buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th were paid a $0.48 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, December 14th. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.13%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 186.41%.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, January 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total value of $3,697,800.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares in the company, valued at $6,254,458.92. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 12,500 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, January 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total value of $770,375.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 82,500 shares of company stock worth $5,039,175. Company insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Guinness Asset Management Ltd boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 18.7% during the second quarter. Guinness Asset Management Ltd now owns 183,190 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,741,000 after purchasing an additional 28,810 shares in the last quarter. BKD Wealth Advisors LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 63.5% during the second quarter. BKD Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 29,770 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,908,000 after purchasing an additional 11,564 shares in the last quarter. Capital One National Association boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.3% during the second quarter. Capital One National Association now owns 115,681 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,414,000 after purchasing an additional 4,783 shares in the last quarter. First American Bank boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.5% during the second quarter. First American Bank now owns 145,810 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,345,000 after purchasing an additional 13,837 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Perkins Coie Trust Co boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 32.3% during the second quarter. Perkins Coie Trust Co now owns 7,684 shares of the company’s stock worth $492,000 after purchasing an additional 1,874 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.68% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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