Keating Investment Counselors Inc. Sells 5,635 Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Keating Investment Counselors Inc. cut its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 5.2% during the third quarter, Holdings Channel reports. The fund owned 103,516 shares of the company’s stock after selling 5,635 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up about 3.2% of Keating Investment Counselors Inc.’s portfolio, making the stock its 9th biggest position. Keating Investment Counselors Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $7,343,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Chemung Canal Trust Co. raised its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 82.2% during the 3rd quarter. Chemung Canal Trust Co. now owns 107,279 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,610,000 after buying an additional 48,395 shares during the period. Sawyer & Company Inc raised its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% during the 2nd quarter. Sawyer & Company Inc now owns 22,984 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,395,000 after buying an additional 2,215 shares during the period. Bollard Group LLC raised its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.4% during the 2nd quarter. Bollard Group LLC now owns 100,829 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,120,000 after buying an additional 2,385 shares during the period. Worldquant Millennium Quantitative Strategies LLC acquired a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter worth $23,693,000. Finally, Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC raised its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 37.0% in the 2nd quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC now owns 122,748 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,451,000 after purchasing an additional 33,153 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.72% of the company’s stock.

Shares of NYSE MRK opened at $79.34 on Monday. The stock has a market capitalization of $213.92 billion, a PE ratio of 19.93, a P/E/G ratio of 2.16 and a beta of 0.71. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.15. Merck & Co., Inc. has a fifty-two week low of $52.83 and a fifty-two week high of $79.49.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. As a group, sell-side analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.77%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock buyback program on Thursday, October 25th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to repurchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

Several analysts have issued reports on the company. Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Tuesday, October 23rd. They issued an “outperform” rating on the stock. BMO Capital Markets lifted their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Monday, October 22nd. ValuEngine raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, October 18th. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $79.00 price target on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, September 26th. Finally, Citigroup lifted their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $73.65.

In related news, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 25,467 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $72.00, for a total transaction of $1,833,624.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 82,135 shares in the company, valued at $5,913,720. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,851 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.08, for a total value of $19,611,958.08. Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 971,801 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $68,103,814.08. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846 in the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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

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