Meyer Handelman Co. reduced its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 3.7% in the third quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 407,937 shares of the company’s stock after selling 15,700 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up about 1.4% of Meyer Handelman Co.’s holdings, making the stock its 20th largest position. Meyer Handelman Co.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $28,939,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

A number of other large investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 185,546,933 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,262,699,000 after purchasing an additional 831,243 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% in the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,346,241,000 after purchasing an additional 3,242,430 shares in the last quarter. Morgan Stanley grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.9% in the second quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 15,905,834 shares of the company’s stock valued at $965,485,000 after purchasing an additional 149,438 shares in the last quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 19.5% in the second quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 14,733,548 shares of the company’s stock valued at $894,326,000 after purchasing an additional 2,406,836 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 41.8% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 12,486,915 shares of the company’s stock valued at $757,959,000 after purchasing an additional 3,682,328 shares in the last quarter. 72.67% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Several equities analysts have recently weighed in on the company. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday. Zacks Investment Research cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 16th. Citigroup set a $79.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 16th. Barclays lifted their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 7th. Finally, Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They issued an “outperform” rating for the company. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $74.07.

In related news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Monday, September 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total transaction of $7,534,524.80. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $7,018,000. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. acquired 666,666 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 1st. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $15.00 per share, with a total value of $9,999,990.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders have sold 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846 in the last three months. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

NYSE:MRK opened at $76.48 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $206.20 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.87, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.08 and a beta of 0.71. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $52.83 and a 52-week high of $80.19. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.15.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. Equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Investors of record on Monday, December 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.88%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to buy up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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