Fiduciary Trust Co. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.1% during the 3rd quarter, HoldingsChannel.com reports. The institutional investor owned 463,658 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 5,177 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up approximately 0.9% of Fiduciary Trust Co.’s investment portfolio, making the stock its 27th largest position. Fiduciary Trust Co.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $29,688,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other large investors have also bought and sold shares of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,442,709,000 after purchasing an additional 3,312,459 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,997,390 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,856,484,000 after purchasing an additional 1,834,500 shares during the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% in the 2nd quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 27,019,572 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,731,684,000 after purchasing an additional 801,033 shares during the last quarter. Boston Partners increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.8% in the 3rd quarter. Boston Partners now owns 18,730,874 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,199,338,000 after purchasing an additional 145,744 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Legal & General Group Plc increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the 2nd quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 14,564,388 shares of the company’s stock worth $933,445,000 after purchasing an additional 192,348 shares during the last quarter. 73.63% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total transaction of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. 0.25% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

MRK has been the topic of several research reports. Zacks Investment Research lowered Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. Citigroup raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, October 18th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, October 20th. Finally, Leerink Swann upped their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research report on Monday, October 23rd. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $66.29.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) opened at $56.80 on Wednesday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $53.63 and a 52 week high of $66.80. The firm has a market capitalization of $154,910.00, a P/E ratio of 55.15, a P/E/G ratio of 2.84 and a beta of 0.76. 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 negative return on equity of 0.58% and a negative net margin of 0.49%. The firm had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.54 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.07 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current year.

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

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th were paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, December 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.38%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 186.41%.

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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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