Personal Capital Advisors Corp increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 51.6% during the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 27,014 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 9,199 shares during the period. Personal Capital Advisors Corp’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $1,916,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.
A number of other large investors have also recently made changes to their positions in MRK. Rockland Trust Co. acquired a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the second quarter worth approximately $3,949,000. Sawyer & Company Inc grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% in the second quarter. Sawyer & Company Inc now owns 22,984 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,395,000 after buying an additional 2,215 shares during the last quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 37.0% in the second quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC now owns 122,748 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,451,000 after buying an additional 33,153 shares during the last quarter. Jennison Associates LLC grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 11.0% in the second quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 924,946 shares of the company’s stock worth $56,144,000 after buying an additional 91,879 shares during the last quarter. Finally, HL Financial Services LLC grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.7% in the second quarter. HL Financial Services LLC now owns 217,281 shares of the company’s stock worth $13,189,000 after buying an additional 1,540 shares during the last quarter. 72.33% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
NYSE MRK opened at $73.61 on Thursday. Merck & Co., Inc. has a twelve month low of $52.83 and a twelve month high of $74.49. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a current ratio of 1.33. The company has a market cap of $189.81 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.49, a PEG ratio of 1.94 and a beta of 0.81.
Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has approved a stock 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 purchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 17th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.99%. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is presently 48.24%.
In other news, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. acquired 666,666 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, October 1st. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $9,999,990.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,851 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, September 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.08, for a total transaction of $19,611,958.08. Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 971,801 shares in the company, valued at $68,103,814.08. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 696,269 shares of company stock worth $49,219,634. Corporate insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.
MRK has been the topic of several recent research reports. Guggenheim initiated coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Monday, October 8th. They issued a “buy” rating on the stock. Morgan Stanley set a $74.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, August 23rd. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, October 1st. SunTrust Banks restated a “buy” rating and issued a $77.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Thursday, August 16th. Finally, Barclays lifted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, September 7th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $71.92.
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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