Poplar Forest Capital LLC increased its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 10.4% during the second quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 582,956 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 54,909 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. comprises approximately 3.6% of Poplar Forest Capital LLC’s investment portfolio, making the stock its 13th largest holding. Poplar Forest Capital LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $48,881,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Other large investors have also made changes to their positions in the company. LFA Lugano Financial Advisors SA lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 250.0% during the 2nd quarter. LFA Lugano Financial Advisors SA now owns 315 shares of the company’s stock valued at $26,000 after buying an additional 225 shares in the last quarter. JJJ Advisors Inc. purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 2nd quarter valued at $27,000. PRW Wealth Management LLC purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter valued at $41,000. Aspire Private Capital LLC purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 4th quarter valued at $55,000. Finally, Thor Advisors LLC purchased a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 1st quarter valued at $69,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 75.34% of the company’s stock.

Shares of NYSE MRK traded up $1.60 during trading on Friday, hitting $85.06. 8,550,000 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,599,076. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $66.10 and a 12-month high of $87.07. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82, a quick ratio of 0.92 and a current ratio of 1.21. The company has a fifty day moving average price of $83.38 and a 200-day moving average price of $80.94. The firm has a market capitalization of $213.69 billion, a PE ratio of 19.60, a P/E/G ratio of 1.70 and a beta of 0.56.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 30th. The company reported $1.30 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.16 by $0.14. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 43.34% and a net margin of 21.10%. The business had revenue of $11.76 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.94 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.06 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 12.4% compared to the same quarter last year. Research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.91 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Monday, September 16th will be issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, September 13th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.59%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 50.69%.

A number of research analysts have weighed in on MRK shares. ValuEngine lowered Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, August 1st. Citigroup raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $84.00 to $95.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, June 21st. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Leerink Swann started coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Thursday. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $103.00 price objective on the stock. Credit Suisse Group restated a “buy” rating and issued a $95.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Wednesday, August 7th. Finally, UBS Group raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $87.00 to $88.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, May 2nd. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seventeen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $92.56.

In other news, CFO Robert M. Davis sold 216,718 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.43, for a total transaction of $18,514,218.74. Following the transaction, the chief financial officer now owns 354,378 shares in the company, valued at approximately $30,274,512.54. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 6,427 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.09, for a total value of $546,873.43. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 103,223 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $8,783,245.07. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.27% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Merck & Co., Inc. Profile

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

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

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