BTR Capital Management Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 49.1% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm owned 143,745 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 47,368 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up approximately 1.6% of BTR Capital Management Inc.’s portfolio, making the stock its 28th biggest holding. BTR Capital Management Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $8,089,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other hedge funds have also made changes to their positions in MRK. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock valued at $12,442,709,000 after purchasing an additional 3,312,459 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,997,390 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,856,484,000 after purchasing an additional 1,834,500 shares during the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% in the second quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 27,019,572 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,731,684,000 after purchasing an additional 801,033 shares during the last quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 7.5% in the third quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 23,515,877 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,505,621,000 after purchasing an additional 1,631,013 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Boston Partners grew its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% in the third quarter. Boston Partners now owns 18,730,874 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,199,338,000 after purchasing an additional 145,744 shares during the last quarter. 74.79% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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MRK has been the topic of several research reports. SunTrust Banks raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and upped their target price for the company from $54.00 to $72.00 in a report on Tuesday, January 16th. BMO Capital Markets set a $65.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, February 21st. Leerink Swann reduced their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $67.00 to $66.00 and set a “market perform” rating on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, February 14th. Jefferies Group restated a “hold” rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Tuesday, January 16th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 10th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.41.

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) opened at $55.25 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $53.12 and a 12-month high of $66.41. The firm has a market capitalization of $148,960.00, a PE ratio of 30.36, a P/E/G ratio of 2.28 and a beta of 0.81. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.62, a quick ratio of 1.06 and a current ratio of 1.33.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its earnings results on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.04. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 28.61% and a net margin of 6.40%. The firm had revenue of $10.43 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.48 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.89 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.16 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 6th. Investors of record on Thursday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.48%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 105.49%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has approved a share repurchase program on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are generally an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, January 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total transaction of $3,697,800.00. Following the transaction, 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 Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.57, for a total value of $267,850.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at $273,207. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 82,500 shares of company stock worth $5,026,025 over the last quarter. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

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

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