Cutler Investment Counsel LLC Increases Holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Cutler Investment Counsel LLC lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.7% during the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 123,143 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 2,102 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. comprises approximately 1.8% of Cutler Investment Counsel LLC’s holdings, making the stock its 28th largest holding. Cutler Investment Counsel LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $7,885,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Other hedge funds have also recently bought and sold shares of the company. Private Trust Co. NA grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 15.2% during the 2nd quarter. Private Trust Co. NA now owns 62,122 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,981,000 after buying an additional 8,194 shares during the last quarter. Capital Investment Advisors LLC grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.0% in the second quarter. Capital Investment Advisors LLC now owns 64,951 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,163,000 after purchasing an additional 1,293 shares in the last quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% in the second quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. now owns 98,479 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,312,000 after purchasing an additional 1,665 shares in the last quarter. Bank of Montreal Can grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 8.1% in the second quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 9,723,813 shares of the company’s stock worth $623,199,000 after purchasing an additional 732,720 shares in the last quarter. Finally, GW&K Investment Management LLC grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.8% in the second quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 420,261 shares of the company’s stock worth $26,935,000 after purchasing an additional 11,313 shares in the last quarter. 72.85% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

MRK has been the subject of several recent analyst reports. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 17th. Citigroup raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price target for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $55.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Friday, October 20th. Finally, Leerink Swann raised their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Monday, October 23rd. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have given a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.88.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) traded up $0.56 during trading on Monday, reaching $55.43. The company had a trading volume of 12,641,538 shares, compared to its average volume of 14,490,000. The stock has a market cap of $151,020.00, a P/E ratio of 59.60, a P/E/G ratio of 2.46 and a beta of 0.75. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a current ratio of 1.43. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $53.36 and a 1 year high of $66.80.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $10.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.48 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.89 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.1% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.15 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 6th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.46%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 206.45%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has initiated a share buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.57, for a total transaction of $267,850.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $273,207. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, January 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total value of $3,697,800.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares in the company, valued at approximately $6,254,458.92. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 82,500 shares of company stock valued at $5,026,025 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

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Merck & Co., Inc. 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.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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