Zuckerman Investment Group LLC Trims Stock Holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

Zuckerman Investment Group LLC lowered its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) by 1.8% in the 3rd quarter, HoldingsChannel.com reports. The institutional investor owned 65,894 shares of the company’s stock after selling 1,182 shares during the period. Zuckerman Investment Group LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $5,675,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also added to or reduced their stakes in the company. FMR LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 53.8% during the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 22,349,549 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,037,608,000 after acquiring an additional 7,816,470 shares in the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2,671.4% during the first quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 5,099,334 shares of the company’s stock valued at $418,400,000 after purchasing an additional 4,915,334 shares during the last quarter. GQG Partners LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 48,148.9% in the 2nd quarter. GQG Partners LLC now owns 4,214,059 shares of the company’s stock worth $384,412,000 after purchasing an additional 4,205,325 shares in the last quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 256.3% in the 1st quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec now owns 4,882,173 shares of the company’s stock worth $400,582,000 after buying an additional 3,511,900 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Great West Life Assurance Co. Can bought a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $243,240,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.89% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Performance

Merck & Co., Inc. stock traded up $0.68 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, reaching $109.20. 770,614 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 8,467,251. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $72.88 and a 12-month high of $115.49. The business’s 50-day moving average is $109.70 and its 200-day moving average is $97.76. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.64, a current ratio of 1.46 and a quick ratio of 1.22. The stock has a market capitalization of $276.87 billion, a PE ratio of 18.06, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.38 and a beta of 0.39.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 27th. The company reported $1.85 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.67 by $0.18. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 46.57% and a net margin of 25.88%. The business had revenue of $14.96 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $14.05 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $1.75 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 13.7% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, sell-side analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 7.4 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Merck & Co., Inc. Increases Dividend

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, January 9th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, December 15th were given a $0.73 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, December 14th. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.69. This represents a $2.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.67%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 48.59%.

Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades

Several equities research analysts have commented on the company. Mizuho boosted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $100.00 to $130.00 in a report on Thursday, December 15th. Cowen increased their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $108.00 to $120.00 in a research report on Tuesday, January 3rd. Barclays lifted their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $110.00 to $128.00 in a report on Tuesday, December 20th. Morgan Stanley increased their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $91.00 to $100.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a report on Friday, October 28th. Finally, Citigroup boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. to $105.00 in a report on Tuesday, November 15th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, fourteen have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. Based on data from MarketBeat, the stock currently has a consensus rating of “Moderate Buy” and an average target price of $113.83.

Insider Transactions at Merck & Co., Inc.

In other news, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 164,557 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, October 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $100.26, for a total value of $16,498,484.82. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 136,977 shares in the company, valued at approximately $13,733,314.02. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 164,557 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, October 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $100.26, for a total value of $16,498,484.82. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 136,977 shares in the company, valued at $13,733,314.02. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, insider Johannes Jacobus Oosthuizen sold 1,795 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $103.21, for a total value of $185,261.95. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 16,731 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,726,806.51. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 1,165,809 shares of company stock worth $118,007,120 in the last 90 days. 0.29% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

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Merck & Co, Inc operates as a healthcare company worldwide. It operates through two segments, Pharmaceutical and Animal Health. The Pharmaceutical segment offers human health pharmaceutical products in the areas of oncology, hospital acute care, immunology, neuroscience, virology, cardiovascular, and diabetes, as well as vaccine products, such as preventive pediatric, adolescent, and adult vaccines.

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

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