First Trust Advisors LP grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 8.5% during the 4th quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The firm owned 1,171,158 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 91,586 shares during the period. First Trust Advisors LP’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $89,488,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other large investors also recently bought and sold shares of the business. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the 3rd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 202,833,998 shares of the company’s stock worth $14,389,044,000 after acquiring an additional 924,701 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the 3rd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 202,833,998 shares of the company’s stock worth $14,389,044,000 after acquiring an additional 924,701 shares during the period. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% during the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 53,150,490 shares of the company’s stock worth $696,000 after acquiring an additional 52,855,811 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 184,252.6% during the 3rd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,985,039 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,765,600,000 after acquiring an additional 38,963,892 shares during the period. Finally, Capital International Investors boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 178.2% during the 3rd quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 32,984,606 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,339,928,000 after acquiring an additional 21,127,887 shares during the period. 73.46% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Several research analysts have recently commented on MRK shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 target price for the company in a research note on Friday, January 4th. BMO Capital Markets downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 target price for the company. in a research note on Wednesday, January 23rd. Argus lifted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. to $95.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, February 20th. Cantor Fitzgerald started coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, February 22nd. They set an “overweight” rating and a $95.00 target price for the company. Finally, ValuEngine downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, April 18th. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $78.74.

MRK opened at $73.46 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $197.33 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.93, a PEG ratio of 1.78 and a beta of 0.63. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $56.26 and a 1 year high of $83.85. The company has a quick ratio of 0.92, a current ratio of 1.17 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74.

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

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th were paid a $0.55 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.99%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 50.69%.

In other news, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, February 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.71, for a total transaction of $393,550.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at approximately $401,421. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, February 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.96, for a total value of $759,600.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 1,094,632 shares of company stock valued at $87,840,652 over the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, intra-abdominal, fungal infection, insomnia, and inflammatory diseases.

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

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