Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Stake Boosted by Busey Trust CO

Busey Trust CO grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 7.1% during the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm owned 83,613 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 5,564 shares during the quarter. Busey Trust CO’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $5,931,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other large investors have also recently added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 208.4% in the first quarter. SRS Capital Advisors Inc. now owns 1,983 shares of the company’s stock valued at $108,000 after purchasing an additional 1,340 shares during the period. Taylor Wealth Management Partners bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter valued at approximately $110,000. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 155.2% in the second quarter. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV now owns 1,832 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after purchasing an additional 1,114 shares during the period. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC raised its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 86.5% in the third quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 1,656 shares of the company’s stock valued at $117,000 after purchasing an additional 768 shares during the period. Finally, Atlantic Trust LLC bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter valued at approximately $127,000. 72.32% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

A number of equities analysts have recently commented on the stock. Citigroup lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 31st. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 16th. Bank of America lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, July 30th. BMO Capital Markets lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Monday, October 22nd. Finally, SunTrust Banks lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, October 29th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $71.92.

Shares of MRK stock opened at $73.12 on Tuesday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $52.83 and a 1 year high of $74.49. The firm has a market cap of $194.85 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.37, a P/E/G ratio of 1.96 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a current ratio of 1.33.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.05. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.20%. The business had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Investors of record on Monday, December 17th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.01%. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock buyback plan 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 shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 666,666 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 1st. The shares were acquired at an average price of $15.00 per share, with a total value of $9,999,990.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 277,879 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $73.81, for a total transaction of $20,510,248.99. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 277,879 shares in the company, valued at approximately $20,510,248.99. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 1,017,443 shares of company stock worth $73,155,331 in the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy symptoms, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal infections, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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

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