Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Lifted to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Tuesday, October 17th.

According to Zacks, “Merck has made significant progress with its pipeline and is working on bringing new products to the market. New products like Keytruda and Zepatier should continue to contribute meaningfully to sales. Keytruda is gaining strong momentum from new indication of first-line lung cancer. The Keytruda development program also significantly advanced in the first half with several key regulatory approvals. Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. However, generic competition for several drugs and pricing pressure will continue to be overhangs on the top line. Rising competition in the immuno-oncology market is also a significant concern. Merck’s shares underperformed the industry this year so far. Estimates have declined slightly ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. Merck has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

MRK has been the topic of several other research reports. Cowen and Company reiterated a hold rating and issued a $70.00 price target on shares of Merck & in a report on Friday, September 1st. Jefferies Group LLC restated a sell rating and set a $52.00 target price on shares of Merck & in a report on Sunday, August 20th. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 target price on Merck & and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, October 11th. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) restated a neutral rating and set a $74.00 target price (up previously from $70.00) on shares of Merck & in a report on Thursday, July 27th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $66.00 price target (up previously from $64.00) on shares of Merck & in a research report on Monday, July 17th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $70.67.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) traded down 6.61% during trading on Tuesday, reaching $57.89. 18,658,789 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Merck & has a 1-year low of $57.88 and a 1-year high of $66.80. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $64.48 and a 200 day moving average of $63.70. The firm has a market capitalization of $157.89 billion, a PE ratio of 31.34 and a beta of 0.80.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.54 billion. Merck & had a return on equity of 26.02% and a net margin of 17.14%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.07 earnings per share. Equities analysts forecast that Merck & will post $3.87 EPS for the current year.

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Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Perennial Advisors LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & by 10.7% during the 2nd quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC now owns 1,626 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after purchasing an additional 157 shares in the last quarter. Stelac Advisory Services LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & in the second quarter worth approximately $104,000. Vigilant Capital Management LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & by 16.7% during the first quarter. Vigilant Capital Management LLC now owns 1,746 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after acquiring an additional 250 shares during the last quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. increased its position in shares of Merck & by 15.5% during the second quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,727 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after acquiring an additional 232 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Solaris Asset Management LLC increased its position in shares of Merck & by 6.3% during the second quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,940 shares of the company’s stock valued at $124,000 after acquiring an additional 115 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.86% of the company’s stock.

Merck & 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. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

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