Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Short Interest Down 15.7% in March

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) saw a large decrease in short interest in the month of March. As of March 29th, there was short interest totalling 32,630,395 shares, a decrease of 15.7% from the March 15th total of 38,684,680 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 9,641,379 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 3.4 days. Currently, 1.3% of the shares of the stock are short sold.

A number of equities analysts recently issued reports on the stock. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $93.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Monday, April 1st. Cantor Fitzgerald reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, March 29th. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Tuesday, February 19th. Citigroup set a $65.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Finally, Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $77.83.

Shares of NYSE MRK opened at $77.56 on Wednesday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.92, a current ratio of 1.17 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $56.26 and a 52-week high of $83.85. The company has a market capitalization of $211.73 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.87, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.93 and a beta of 0.62.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 36.83%. The firm had revenue of $11 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.93 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.98 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, research analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 5th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 15th were given a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.84%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 50.69%.

In related news, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. acquired 4,121,683 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 8th. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $16.00 per share, for a total transaction of $65,946,928.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 231,566 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, February 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.08, for a total transaction of $18,080,673.28. Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 923,516 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $72,108,129.28. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders have sold 1,094,632 shares of company stock valued at $87,840,652. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. WP Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the first quarter worth $36,000. PRW Wealth Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the fourth quarter worth $41,000. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 186.4% during the fourth quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 653 shares of the company’s stock worth $50,000 after buying an additional 425 shares during the period. Aspire Private Capital LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the fourth quarter worth $55,000. Finally, Somerset Trust Co increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 311.2% during the first quarter. Somerset Trust Co now owns 699 shares of the company’s stock worth $58,000 after buying an additional 529 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.46% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, intra-abdominal, fungal infection, insomnia, and inflammatory diseases.

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