Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has been assigned a $55.00 price objective by investment analysts at Jefferies Group in a research note issued on Friday. The brokerage currently has a “hold” rating on the stock. Jefferies Group’s price objective suggests a potential upside of 1.63% from the stock’s previous close.

A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on MRK. SunTrust Banks upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price objective for the stock from $54.00 to $72.00 in a research report on Tuesday, January 16th. BMO Capital Markets set a $65.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, February 21st. Leerink Swann lowered their price target 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. ValuEngine upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 10th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group lowered their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $66.00 to $65.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, February 14th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.35.

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Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) opened at $54.12 on Friday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.62, a current ratio of 1.33 and a quick ratio of 1.06. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $53.12 and a 12-month high of $66.41. The stock has a market capitalization of $147,454.63, a price-to-earnings ratio of 58.19, a P/E/G ratio of 2.31 and a beta of 0.81.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ 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 company had revenue of $10.43 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.48 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.89 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.17 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated 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 of the company’s stock, valued at $6,254,458.92. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s 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 completion of the sale, the director now directly 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 ninety days. Insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Franklin Resources Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 58.4% during the fourth quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 43,221,157 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,432,154,000 after purchasing an additional 15,932,771 shares during the last quarter. American International Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 992.8% during the fourth quarter. American International Group Inc. now owns 9,152,305 shares of the company’s stock valued at $515,000,000 after purchasing an additional 8,314,765 shares during the last quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 33,282.9% during the fourth quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp now owns 5,941,154 shares of the company’s stock valued at $334,309,000 after purchasing an additional 5,923,357 shares during the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 172.3% during the third quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 6,705,564 shares of the company’s stock valued at $429,347,000 after purchasing an additional 4,243,246 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Capital International Investors lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 55.3% during the third quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 9,623,382 shares of the company’s stock valued at $616,185,000 after purchasing an additional 3,428,400 shares during the last quarter. 74.60% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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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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