Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

According to Zacks, “Merck’s beat estimates for both earnings and sales in the first quarter of 2017 and also raised its 2017 guidance. 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 the top line.  Keytruda uptake in first line lung cancer indication and potential label expansion – with FDA action pending on multiple regulatory applications – are catalysts for the stock in 2017. Meanwhile, Merck will continue to focus on cost-cutting initiatives to drive the bottom line. Merck’s shares surpassed the large-cap pharma industry in the past one year. 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.”

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Friday morning. The firm currently has $73.00 price objective on the stock.

A number of other analysts have also recently weighed in on MRK. BMO Capital Markets lowered their target price on shares of Merck & Co. from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an outperform rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, February 15th. Vetr raised shares of Merck & Co. from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $63.44 target price on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, February 22nd. Sanford C. Bernstein reissued a market perform rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Friday, February 24th. Jefferies Group LLC reissued an underperform rating and issued a $52.00 target price (up previously from $50.00) on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Saturday, March 11th. Finally, Leerink Swann reissued a market perform rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a research note on Monday, March 20th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $68.58.

Shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) opened at 65.11 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $178.09 billion, a PE ratio of 41.50 and a beta of 0.79. Merck & Co. has a 12-month low of $55.10 and a 12-month high of $66.80. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $63.43 and a 200-day moving average price of $62.94.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, May 2nd. The company reported $0.88 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.83 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $9.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.25 billion. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 14.30% and a return on equity of 24.08%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.3% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.89 earnings per share. Analysts expect that Merck & Co. will post $3.84 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 10th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, June 15th will be given a dividend of $0.47 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, June 13th. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.89%. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is 92.61%.

In other news, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 53,850 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.48, for a total transaction of $3,418,398.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director C Robert Kidder sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.54, for a total transaction of $317,700.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 14,317 shares in the company, valued at $909,702.18. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.05% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 3.3% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 190,831,858 shares of the company’s stock worth $12,125,457,000 after buying an additional 6,102,216 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Merck & Co. by 2,738.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 183,162,890 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,638,170,000 after buying an additional 176,711,091 shares during the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 2.2% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 56,714,385 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,539,544,000 after buying an additional 1,235,395 shares during the period. Northern Trust Corp increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 1.1% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 36,237,082 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,261,555,000 after buying an additional 411,890 shares during the period. Finally, Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD increased its stake in Merck & Co. by 88.7% in the third quarter. Price T Rowe Associates Inc. MD now owns 35,668,056 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,226,043,000 after buying an additional 16,764,608 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 74.10% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co.

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.new TradingView.widget({ “height”: 400, “width”: 625, “symbol”: “MRK”, “interval”: “D”, “timezone”: “Etc/UTC”, “theme”: “White”, “style”: “1”, “locale”: “en”, “toolbar_bg”: “#f1f3f6”, “enable_publishing”: false, “hideideas”: true, “referral_id”: “2588”});

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