Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) during the first quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The fund acquired 294,442 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $18,708,000.

A number of other large investors have also recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vigilant Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & by 16.7% in the first quarter. Vigilant Capital Management LLC now owns 1,746 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 250 shares during the period. Gradient Investments LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & by 41.3% in the first quarter. Gradient Investments LLC now owns 2,306 shares of the company’s stock worth $147,000 after buying an additional 674 shares during the period. Pinnacle Bank purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & during the first quarter worth approximately $152,000. Tortoise Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & by 50.6% in the fourth quarter. Tortoise Investment Management LLC now owns 2,678 shares of the company’s stock worth $158,000 after buying an additional 900 shares during the period. Finally, Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & during the fourth quarter worth approximately $159,000. 73.73% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Shares of Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded up 0.925% during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $62.755. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 2,079,367 shares. Merck & Company, Inc. has a 52-week low of $58.29 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The company has a market cap of $171.16 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 33.977 and a beta of 0.80. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $63.46 and its 200 day moving average price is $63.80.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.14. The firm had revenue of $9.93 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.75 billion. Merck & had a return on equity of 26.02% and a net margin of 17.14%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up .9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.93 EPS. Equities analysts forecast that Merck & Company, Inc. will post $3.87 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Investors of record on Friday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.02%. Merck &’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 76.11%.

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A number of equities research analysts have commented on MRK shares. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, May 10th. Vetr cut Merck & from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $69.99 price objective for the company. in a research note on Wednesday, May 17th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & in a research note on Tuesday, June 6th. Credit Suisse Group set a $72.00 target price on Merck & and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, June 6th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies set a $70.00 target price on Merck & and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Saturday, July 29th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the stock. Merck & has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $69.80.

Merck & 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 & (NYSE:MRK)

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