Klingenstein Fields & Co. LLC reduced its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.5% in the third quarter, HoldingsChannel reports. The firm owned 441,921 shares of the company’s stock after selling 6,659 shares during the period. Klingenstein Fields & Co. LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $28,296,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

A number of other hedge funds have also modified their holdings of the business. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its stake 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 acquiring an additional 3,312,459 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake 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 acquiring an additional 1,834,500 shares during the period. Franklin Resources Inc. grew its stake 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 acquiring an additional 801,033 shares during the period. Legal & General Group Plc grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the second quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 14,564,388 shares of the company’s stock valued at $933,445,000 after acquiring an additional 192,348 shares during the period. Finally, FMR LLC grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 13,134,739 shares of the company’s stock valued at $841,805,000 after acquiring an additional 171,411 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.63% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities research analysts have commented on the company. Zacks Investment Research cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 11th. Leerink Swann raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Monday, October 23rd. Jefferies Group reissued a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, October 20th. BMO Capital Markets reissued an “outperform” rating and issued a $72.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Thursday, October 12th. Finally, Citigroup raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $66.29.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) opened at $56.99 on Monday. The stock has a market capitalization of $155,430.00, a P/E ratio of 55.33, a P/E/G ratio of 2.84 and a beta of 0.76. The company has a current ratio of 1.43, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $53.63 and a 1 year high of $66.80.

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

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.37%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 186.41%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock 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 reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are typically an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. 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 legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. 0.25% of the stock is owned by insiders.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company 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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