Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Short Interest Update

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Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the recipient of a significant drop in short interest in March. As of March 29th, there was short interest totalling 32,630,395 shares, a drop of 15.7% from the March 15th total of 38,684,680 shares. Currently, 1.3% of the company’s stock are sold short. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 9,641,379 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 3.4 days.

MRK has been the subject of several analyst reports. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 20th. Citigroup set a $65.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, December 20th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 target price for the company in a report on Friday, January 4th. BMO Capital Markets downgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 target price for the company. in a report on Wednesday, January 23rd. Finally, Argus increased their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. to $95.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, February 20th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $77.83.

In other news, VP Rita A. Karachun sold 64,662 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, February 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.96, for a total value of $5,105,711.52. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 53,327 shares in the company, valued at $4,210,699.92. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 4,121,683 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, April 8th. The stock was purchased at an average price of $16.00 per share, with a total value of $65,946,928.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold 1,094,632 shares of company stock worth $87,840,652 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% in the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 202,833,998 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,389,044,000 after acquiring an additional 924,701 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 202,833,998 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,389,044,000 after purchasing an additional 924,701 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.6% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 194,589,541 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,868,587,000 after purchasing an additional 10,315,510 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 53,150,490 shares of the company’s stock valued at $696,000 after purchasing an additional 52,855,811 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 184,252.6% during the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,985,039 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,765,600,000 after purchasing an additional 38,963,892 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.39% of the company’s stock.

NYSE MRK opened at $78.53 on Tuesday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $56.26 and a 52-week high of $83.85. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74, a current ratio of 1.17 and a quick ratio of 0.92. The stock has a market cap of $214.16 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.09, a P/E/G ratio of 1.94 and a beta of 0.63.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 14.71% and a return on equity of 36.83%. The business had revenue of $11 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.93 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.98 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th were issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 14th. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.80%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 50.69%.

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About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, intra-abdominal, fungal infection, insomnia, and inflammatory diseases.

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