Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.
According to Zacks, “Merck’s efforts to expand its pipeline and focus on core areas of expertise are encouraging. New products especially Keytruda should contribute meaningfully to the top-line. Merck has also been pursuing acquisitions and business development deals to boost its pipeline. Merck will also continue to look toward cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom-line. Investor focus will remain on the performance of the company’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, Zepatier, label expansion of Keytruda and business development deals. Estimates have been mixed lately ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, the top-line will remain under pressure mainly due to increased competition as well as generic competition. “
A number of other analysts have also recently weighed in on MRK. Argus reissued a “buy” rating and set a $65.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, September 14th. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “market perform” rating and set a $62.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Tuesday, August 2nd. Jefferies Group increased their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, July 14th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reissued a “neutral” rating and set a $62.00 target price (up from $58.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Monday, August 8th. Finally, Leerink Swann reissued a “hold” rating and set a $58.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Thursday, July 14th. Thirteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of €65.58 ($72.06).
Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 62.09 on Monday. Merck & Co. has a 12-month low of $47.97 and a 12-month high of $64.86. The stock has a market cap of $171.69 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.06 and a beta of 0.68. The company’s 50-day moving average is $62.50 and its 200-day moving average is $58.90.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, July 29th. The company reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $9.84 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.79 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 13.01% and a return on equity of 23.41%. The firm’s revenue was up .6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.86 earnings per share. On average, analysts expect that Merck & Co. will post $3.75 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th were issued a dividend of $0.46 per share. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.96%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, September 13th. Merck & Co.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 101.10%.
In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 39,200 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.61 ($68.80), for a total transaction of €2,454,312.00 ($2,697,046.15). Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 39,200 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately €2,454,312 ($2,697,046.15). The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 40,800 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, October 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of €62.07 ($68.21), for a total value of €2,532,456.00 ($2,782,918.68). Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 128,973 shares in the company, valued at €8,005,354.11 ($8,797,092.43). The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.05% of the company’s stock.
Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. GW&K Investment Management LLC raised its stake in Merck & Co. by 6.6% in the third quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 369,150 shares of the company’s stock valued at $23,039,000 after buying an additional 22,736 shares during the period. MAI Capital Management raised its stake in Merck & Co. by 5.1% in the third quarter. MAI Capital Management now owns 60,496 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,776,000 after buying an additional 2,917 shares during the period. Anderson Hoagland & Co. bought a new stake in Merck & Co. during the third quarter valued at about $274,000. Capital Investment Advisors LLC raised its stake in Merck & Co. by 8.8% in the third quarter. Capital Investment Advisors LLC now owns 60,731 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,790,000 after buying an additional 4,932 shares during the period. Finally, Guinness Asset Management Ltd raised its stake in Merck & Co. by 7.1% in the third quarter. Guinness Asset Management Ltd now owns 108,460 shares of the company’s stock valued at $6,769,000 after buying an additional 7,160 shares during the period. 72.93% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
Merck & Co. Company Profile
Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It operates through one segment, Pharmaceutical. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.
For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com
Receive News & Ratings for Merck & Co. Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Merck & Co. and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.