Segment Wealth Management LLC increased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 6.0% during the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm owned 20,019 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 1,142 shares during the period. Segment Wealth Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $1,282,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.
A number of other hedge funds have also recently modified their holdings of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 194,144,317 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,442,709,000 after purchasing an additional 3,312,459 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,997,390 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,856,484,000 after purchasing an additional 1,834,500 shares during the period. Franklin Resources Inc. grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% in the second quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 27,019,572 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,731,684,000 after purchasing an additional 801,033 shares during the period. Legal & General Group Plc grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in 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. Finally, FMR LLC grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 13,134,739 shares of the company’s stock worth $841,805,000 after purchasing an additional 171,411 shares during the period. 73.63% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 27.08% and a net margin of 11.60%. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.54 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.07 earnings per share. Merck & Co., Inc.’s revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.
Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has authorized a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are typically an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 15th will be issued a $0.48 dividend. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.41%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 186.41%.
A number of equities research analysts have recently commented on the company. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 11th. Jefferies Group reissued a “sell” rating and issued a $55.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, October 20th. Credit Suisse Group cut their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $75.00 to $74.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, August 30th. Leerink Swann cut their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $69.00 and set a “market perform” rating on the stock in a research note on Monday, October 30th. Finally, Citigroup raised Merck & Co., Inc. to a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, October 30th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have assigned a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $66.29.
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About Merck & Co., Inc.
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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