Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Short Interest Update

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Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) saw a large decline in short interest during the month of January. As of January 31st, there was short interest totalling 34,557,279 shares, a decline of 18.1% from the January 15th total of 42,215,861 shares. Approximately 1.3% of the shares of the stock are short sold. Based on an average trading volume of 14,250,904 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 2.4 days.

A number of analysts have recently issued reports on MRK shares. ValuEngine raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, October 18th. BMO Capital Markets lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, October 22nd. Wolfe Research started coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Tuesday, October 23rd. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. SunTrust Banks lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, October 29th. Finally, Citigroup lifted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 31st. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and ten have issued a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $73.15.

In other news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 231,566 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Tuesday, February 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.08, for a total transaction of $18,080,673.28. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 923,516 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $72,108,129.28. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 10,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Monday, February 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.96, for a total transaction of $759,600.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 244,618 shares of company stock valued at $19,075,949 over the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 186.4% in the fourth quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 653 shares of the company’s stock valued at $50,000 after acquiring an additional 425 shares during the period. Arlington Partners LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 93.5% in the fourth quarter. Arlington Partners LLC now owns 828 shares of the company’s stock valued at $63,000 after acquiring an additional 400 shares during the period. Advisors Preferred LLC purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the fourth quarter valued at about $66,000. Financial Gravity Companies Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the fourth quarter valued at about $66,000. Finally, Mark Sheptoff Financial Planning LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 150.0% in the fourth quarter. Mark Sheptoff Financial Planning LLC now owns 1,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $76,000 after acquiring an additional 600 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 74.29% of the company’s stock.

Shares of NYSE:MRK opened at $79.02 on Thursday. The firm has a market capitalization of $209.82 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.21, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.05 and a beta of 0.62. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $80.19. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a current ratio of 1.44.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.93 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 35.10%. The firm’s revenue was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.98 EPS. As a group, equities analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th will be given a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.78%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 50.69%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program on Thursday, October 25th that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to reacquire up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

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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 agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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