Welch & Forbes LLC Sells 6,727 Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

Welch & Forbes LLC lowered its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.4% during the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the SEC. The fund owned 490,985 shares of the company’s stock after selling 6,727 shares during the period. Welch & Forbes LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $34,831,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

Several other hedge funds have also added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. Senator Investment Group LP bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter valued at $285,594,000. Bank of Montreal Can bought a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the 2nd quarter valued at $232,626,000. Janus Henderson Group PLC grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 41.8% during the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 12,486,915 shares of the company’s stock valued at $757,959,000 after purchasing an additional 3,682,328 shares during the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% during the 2nd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,346,241,000 after purchasing an additional 3,242,430 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Investec Asset Management LTD grew its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4,320.3% during the 2nd quarter. Investec Asset Management LTD now owns 3,096,008 shares of the company’s stock valued at $187,928,000 after purchasing an additional 3,025,967 shares during the last quarter. 72.32% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

A number of equities research analysts have issued reports on MRK shares. SunTrust Banks raised their price target 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. Citigroup raised their price target 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. Bank of America raised their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 30th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $80.00 price target on the stock in a report on Monday, October 8th. Finally, Morgan Stanley set a $74.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, August 23rd. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $71.92.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock opened at $74.86 on Friday. The firm has a market capitalization of $203.51 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.64, a PEG ratio of 2.05 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 1.44. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $52.83 and a 12-month high of $75.99.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.14 by $0.05. The firm had revenue of $10.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.87 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 8.44% and a return on equity of 34.48%. Research analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.55 per share. This is a positive change from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.94%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 48.24%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase plan on Thursday, October 25th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to reacquire up to 5.1% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total transaction of $7,534,524.80. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,018,000. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 666,666 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 1st. The shares were bought at an average cost of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $9,999,990.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 1,279,104 shares of company stock worth $92,845,846 in the last ninety days. Insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

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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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