Merck & Company, Inc. (MRK) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday, June 12th.

According to Zacks, “Merck has been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. Merck has made significant progress with its pipeline and is working on bringing new products to the market. New products like Keytruda and Zepatier should continue to contribute meaningfully to the top line.  Keytruda uptake in first line lung cancer indication and potential label expansion – with FDA action pending on multiple regulatory applications – are catalysts for the stock in 2017. Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. Merck’s shares surpassed the large-cap pharma industry in the past one year. However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure will continue to be overhangs on the top line. Rising competition in the immune-oncology market is also a significant concern.”

A number of other research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. J P Morgan Chase & Co upped their target price on shares of Merck & Company from $74.00 to $76.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a report on Thursday, May 11th. Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Company in a report on Friday, February 24th. Leerink Swann restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Merck & Company in a report on Monday, March 20th. BMO Capital Markets upped their target price on shares of Merck & Company from $68.00 to $70.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, May 11th. Finally, Vetr upgraded shares of Merck & Company from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $69.31 price objective on the stock in a report on Wednesday, March 8th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $69.22.

Analyst Recommendations for Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK)

Shares of Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK) traded up 1.88% during mid-day trading on Monday, reaching $64.88. 3,904,756 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. The stock has a market capitalization of $177.46 billion, a PE ratio of 41.35 and a beta of 0.86. Merck & Company has a 1-year low of $55.10 and a 1-year high of $66.80. The company’s 50 day moving average is $63.99 and its 200 day moving average is $63.12.

Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, May 2nd. The company reported $0.88 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.83 by $0.05. Merck & Company had a net margin of 15.32% and a return on equity of 24.99%. The business had revenue of $9.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $9.25 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.89 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.3% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Company will post $3.84 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, June 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.95%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, June 13th. Merck & Company’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 85.84%.

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In other news, Director C Robert Kidder sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.54, for a total transaction of $317,700.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 14,317 shares in the company, valued at approximately $909,702.18. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 53,850 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, April 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.48, for a total value of $3,418,398.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Intellectus Partners LLC bought a new stake in Merck & Company during the fourth quarter worth about $103,000. Vigilant Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Company 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 last quarter. Harbour Capital Advisors LLC bought a new stake in Merck & Company during the first quarter worth about $127,000. Balentine LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Company by 2.1% in the first quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 2,087 shares of the company’s stock worth $133,000 after buying an additional 43 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. bought a new stake in Merck & Company during the fourth quarter worth about $135,000. Institutional investors own 73.82% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Company 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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