Highland Capital Management LP reduced its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 98.0% during the fourth quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm owned 37,024 shares of the company’s stock after selling 1,793,476 shares during the period. Highland Capital Management LP’s holdings in Merck & Co. were worth $2,180,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.
A number of other large investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. Blume Capital Management Inc. increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 14.0% in the third quarter. Blume Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,710 shares of the company’s stock worth $107,000 after buying an additional 210 shares during the period. Roble Belko & Company Inc increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 16.6% in the third quarter. Roble Belko & Company Inc now owns 2,102 shares of the company’s stock worth $131,000 after buying an additional 300 shares during the period. NewSquare Capital LLC increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 3.9% in the third quarter. NewSquare Capital LLC now owns 2,187 shares of the company’s stock worth $137,000 after buying an additional 83 shares during the period. Mascoma Wealth Management LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter worth $135,000. Finally, Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. purchased a new stake in Merck & Co. during the fourth quarter worth $135,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.10% of the company’s stock.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded down 1.06% during trading on Friday, reaching $61.89. 11,164,982 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. The firm has a market cap of $169.92 billion, a PE ratio of 43.89 and a beta of 0.79. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $63.91 and a 200-day moving average price of $62.49. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12 month low of $53.06 and a 12 month high of $66.80.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.89 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.89. The firm earned $10.10 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.22 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 14.30% and a return on equity of 24.08%. The company’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.93 earnings per share. On average, analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post $3.81 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 7th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, March 15th were paid a $0.47 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, March 13th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.04%. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 92.61%.
A number of research firms have weighed in on MRK. Cowen and Company restated a “market perform” rating and issued a $68.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Tuesday, April 11th. HSBC Holdings plc downgraded Merck & Co. from a “hold” rating to a “reduce” rating in a research report on Friday, April 7th. Vetr upgraded Merck & Co. from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $58.15 price objective for the company in a research report on Thursday, January 12th. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated an “underperform” rating and set a $48.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co. in a research report on Thursday, January 12th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies upgraded Merck & Co. from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $72.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Thursday, January 12th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $67.74.
In other news, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 91,959 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.96, for a total value of $5,881,697.64. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 105,559 shares in the company, valued at $6,751,553.64. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 53,850 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.48, for a total transaction of $3,418,398.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 160,809 shares of company stock valued at $10,261,846 over the last 90 days. 0.05% of the stock is owned by company insiders.
About Merck & Co.
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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