Investors Purchase Large Volume of Merck & Co., Inc. Call Options (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) was the recipient of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Investors purchased 44,893 call options on the company. This represents an increase of approximately 52% compared to the average volume of 29,440 call options.

Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Performance

Merck & Co., Inc. stock opened at $87.51 on Friday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $71.50 and a 12-month high of $95.72. The company has a market capitalization of $221.69 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 13.40, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.16 and a beta of 0.33. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.66, a current ratio of 1.39 and a quick ratio of 1.15. The firm’s fifty day moving average price is $88.83 and its 200 day moving average price is $87.81.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 28th. The company reported $1.87 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.67 by $0.20. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 29.00% and a return on equity of 48.45%. The firm had revenue of $14.59 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $13.85 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.31 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 28.0% on a year-over-year basis. On average, research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 7.33 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Merck & Co., Inc. Announces Dividend

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a $0.69 dividend. This represents a $2.76 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.15%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, September 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is currently 42.27%.

Institutional Investors Weigh In On Merck & Co., Inc.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of MRK. Berkeley Capital Partners LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 42.4% in the 4th quarter. Berkeley Capital Partners LLC now owns 4,523 shares of the company’s stock valued at $347,000 after buying an additional 1,347 shares during the period. Blair William & Co. IL boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 6.2% in the 4th quarter. Blair William & Co. IL now owns 723,700 shares of the company’s stock valued at $55,464,000 after buying an additional 42,370 shares during the period. ANTIPODES PARTNERS Ltd boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.6% in the 4th quarter. ANTIPODES PARTNERS Ltd now owns 1,970,789 shares of the company’s stock valued at $160,579,000 after buying an additional 68,277 shares during the period. Clearstead Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.8% in the 4th quarter. Clearstead Advisors LLC now owns 89,856 shares of the company’s stock valued at $6,887,000 after buying an additional 2,469 shares during the period. Finally, Summit Global Investments boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 50.6% in the 4th quarter. Summit Global Investments now owns 151,364 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,601,000 after buying an additional 50,826 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 73.33% of the company’s stock.

Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades

A number of analysts recently issued reports on the stock. Daiwa Capital Markets upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their target price for the stock from $89.00 to $102.00 in a research report on Wednesday, July 6th. Erste Group Bank upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, August 25th. Morgan Stanley lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $88.00 to $92.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a report on Friday, July 29th. UBS Group lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $76.00 to $98.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a report on Monday, July 18th. Finally, Cowen lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $95.00 to $102.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a report on Monday, June 27th. Seven analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eleven have assigned a buy rating and two have given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Based on data from MarketBeat, Merck & Co., Inc. currently has a consensus rating of “Moderate Buy” and a consensus price target of $98.28.

Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

(Get Rating)

Merck & Co, Inc operates as a healthcare company worldwide. It operates through two segments, Pharmaceutical and Animal Health. The Pharmaceutical segment offers human health pharmaceutical products in the areas of oncology, hospital acute care, immunology, neuroscience, virology, cardiovascular, and diabetes, as well as vaccine products, such as preventive pediatric, adolescent, and adult vaccines.

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