Empirical Financial Services LLC Boosts Position in Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Empirical Financial Services LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 10.4% in the 2nd quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the SEC. The firm owned 4,222 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 397 shares during the quarter. Empirical Financial Services LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $271,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently bought and sold shares of MRK. Legal & General Group Plc boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% during the second quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 14,564,388 shares of the company’s stock worth $933,445,000 after purchasing an additional 192,348 shares during the period. Clearbridge Investments LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.6% during the first quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 13,414,669 shares of the company’s stock worth $852,368,000 after purchasing an additional 77,344 shares during the period. Sanders Capital LLC boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.0% during the second quarter. Sanders Capital LLC now owns 12,052,595 shares of the company’s stock worth $835,462,000 after purchasing an additional 458,950 shares during the period. Swiss National Bank boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.0% during the second quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 10,697,901 shares of the company’s stock worth $685,628,000 after purchasing an additional 307,300 shares during the period. Finally, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. boosted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the first quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 9,821,563 shares of the company’s stock worth $624,064,000 after purchasing an additional 41,748 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 73.84% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities analysts have weighed in on MRK shares. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. BidaskClub lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. Jefferies Group reiterated a “sell” rating and set a $55.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, October 20th. Credit Suisse Group cut their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $75.00 to $74.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research report on Wednesday, August 30th. Finally, Leerink Swann cut their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $69.00 and set a “market perform” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.29.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded up $0.35 during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $56.22. 13,440,000 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,641,504. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 1.43 and a quick ratio of 1.16. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $53.63 and a one year high of $66.80. The company has a market capitalization of $152,214.30, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.36, a P/E/G ratio of 2.59 and a beta of 0.76.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a negative net margin of 0.49% and a negative return on equity of 0.58%. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.54 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.07 earnings per share. Merck & Co., Inc.’s revenue was down 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be paid a $0.48 dividend. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.42%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 112.58%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are usually a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Company insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

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Merck & Co., Inc. 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.

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

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