Vident Investment Advisory LLC cut its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 7.0% during the third quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 56,057 shares of the company’s stock after selling 4,207 shares during the quarter. Vident Investment Advisory LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $3,977,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.
A number of other large investors have also recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Pacer Advisors Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 13.7% during the 3rd quarter. Pacer Advisors Inc. now owns 143,152 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,155,000 after acquiring an additional 17,204 shares during the period. Lehman Financial Resources Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.5% during the 3rd quarter. Lehman Financial Resources Inc. now owns 48,293 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,425,000 after acquiring an additional 1,174 shares during the period. Paloma Partners Management Co lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 15.8% during the 3rd quarter. Paloma Partners Management Co now owns 246,701 shares of the company’s stock worth $17,501,000 after acquiring an additional 33,651 shares during the period. Afam Capital Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.8% during the 3rd quarter. Afam Capital Inc. now owns 46,945 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,330,000 after acquiring an additional 1,260 shares during the period. Finally, Robotti Robert bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 3rd quarter worth about $213,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.53% of the company’s stock.
MRK opened at $75.60 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1-year low of $52.83 and a 1-year high of $80.19. The company has a quick ratio of 1.15, a current ratio of 1.44 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. The stock has a market capitalization of $201.16 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.99, a P/E/G ratio of 1.80 and a beta of 0.67.
Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback plan on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to reacquire up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th were given a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.91%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is currently 55.28%.
In related news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred 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 completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 277,879 shares in the company, valued at $20,510,248.99. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, SVP Ashley Watson sold 47,036 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, October 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $74.33, for a total transaction of $3,496,185.88. Following the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 32,990 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,452,146.70. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders have sold 612,043 shares of company stock valued at $45,530,574. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
A number of equities analysts have recently commented on the stock. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 price objective for the company in a report on Friday, January 4th. Citigroup set a $65.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, December 20th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 20th. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 13th. Finally, SunTrust Banks raised their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, October 29th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $73.32.
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About Merck & Co., Inc.
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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