LS Investment Advisors LLC cut its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 8.8% in the 4th quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The firm owned 77,576 shares of the company’s stock after selling 7,498 shares during the quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $5,928,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Other institutional investors and hedge funds have also modified their holdings of the company. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 186.4% during the 4th quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 653 shares of the company’s stock worth $50,000 after acquiring an additional 425 shares during the last quarter. Arlington Partners LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 93.5% during the 4th quarter. Arlington Partners LLC now owns 828 shares of the company’s stock worth $63,000 after acquiring an additional 400 shares during the last quarter. Advisors Preferred LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 4th quarter worth approximately $66,000. Quantamental Technologies LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 4th quarter worth approximately $109,000. Finally, Legacy Bridge LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 4th quarter worth approximately $110,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.36% of the company’s stock.

In related news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 231,566 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, February 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.08, for a total value of $18,080,673.28. Following the sale, the chairman now owns 923,516 shares in the company, valued at approximately $72,108,129.28. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of the 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. In the last three months, insiders sold 1,094,632 shares of company stock valued at $87,840,652. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

NYSE MRK opened at $82.29 on Thursday. The company has a market capitalization of $221.87 billion, a PE ratio of 18.96, a P/E/G ratio of 2.03 and a beta of 0.62. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74, a current ratio of 1.17 and a quick ratio of 0.92. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12 month low of $52.83 and a 12 month high of $83.47.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. The company 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 revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.98 EPS. On average, sell-side analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 15th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.67%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 50.69%.

MRK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 13th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Citigroup set a $65.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 price objective for the company in a report on Friday, January 4th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 price objective for the company. in a report on Wednesday, January 23rd. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $77.06.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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

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