Tocqueville Asset Management L.P. trimmed its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 2.6% in the third quarter, HoldingsChannel reports. The institutional investor owned 1,332,174 shares of the company’s stock after selling 35,972 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for about 1.2% of Tocqueville Asset Management L.P.’s portfolio, making the stock its 8th largest holding. Tocqueville Asset Management L.P.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $94,504,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.
A number of other large investors have also modified their holdings of MRK. Chemung Canal Trust Co. boosted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 82.2% in the 3rd quarter. Chemung Canal Trust Co. now owns 107,279 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,610,000 after purchasing an additional 48,395 shares during the period. Third Point LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $319,230,000. Bollard Group LLC boosted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.4% in the 2nd quarter. Bollard Group LLC now owns 100,829 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,120,000 after purchasing an additional 2,385 shares during the period. Worldquant Millennium Quantitative Strategies LLC acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $23,693,000. Finally, Epoch Investment Partners Inc. boosted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 73.2% in the 2nd quarter. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. now owns 4,635,471 shares of the company’s stock worth $281,373,000 after purchasing an additional 1,959,318 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.58% of the company’s stock.
A number of equities analysts recently commented on MRK shares. Citigroup raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. SunTrust Banks raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, October 29th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $79.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Wednesday, September 26th. Guggenheim started coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Monday, October 8th. They set a “buy” rating for the company. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, October 18th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $73.32.
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.14 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.48%. Equities analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current fiscal year.
The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th were issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.94%. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 55.28%.
Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has authorized a share repurchase plan on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to reacquire up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.
In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $73.81, for a total transaction of $20,510,248.99. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 277,879 shares in the company, valued at approximately $20,510,248.99. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Roger M. Perlmutter sold 225,443 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.27, for a total transaction of $16,969,094.61. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 366,998 shares in the company, valued at approximately $27,623,939.46. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 612,043 shares of company stock worth $45,530,574 in the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is owned by 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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