Short Interest in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Declines By 12.6%

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the target of a significant drop in short interest during the month of March. As of March 13th, there was short interest totalling 18,162,700 shares, a drop of 12.6% from the February 27th total of 20,780,000 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 10,770,000 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 1.7 days. Currently, 0.7% of the company’s stock are sold short.

Several brokerages have recently commented on MRK. Mizuho reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Wednesday, February 5th. UBS Group reduced their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $99.00 to $96.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research report on Thursday, February 6th. Barclays began coverage on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Thursday, February 27th. They set an “overweight” rating and a $93.00 price target on the stock. Argus reduced their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $105.00 to $95.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a “sector perform” rating and set a $92.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Thursday, February 6th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $94.50.

In other news, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 102,073 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, January 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $89.34, for a total transaction of $9,119,201.82. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 106,099 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $9,478,884.66. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Company insiders own 0.27% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. Accurate Investment Solutions Inc. lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 12.0% during the fourth quarter. Accurate Investment Solutions Inc. now owns 1,065 shares of the company’s stock worth $97,000 after purchasing an additional 114 shares in the last quarter. Ellis Investment Partners LLC lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.6% during the fourth quarter. Ellis Investment Partners LLC now owns 20,256 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,864,000 after purchasing an additional 117 shares in the last quarter. Corundum Group Inc. lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.0% during the fourth quarter. Corundum Group Inc. now owns 3,062 shares of the company’s stock worth $278,000 after purchasing an additional 118 shares in the last quarter. American Trust Investment Advisors LLC lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.4% during the fourth quarter. American Trust Investment Advisors LLC now owns 2,801 shares of the company’s stock worth $255,000 after purchasing an additional 118 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Ballentine Partners LLC lifted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the fourth quarter. Ballentine Partners LLC now owns 29,756 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,706,000 after purchasing an additional 120 shares in the last quarter. 75.74% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Shares of NYSE:MRK traded down $1.80 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $71.73. The stock had a trading volume of 11,894,981 shares, compared to its average volume of 18,860,674. The stock’s fifty day simple moving average is $78.95 and its 200 day simple moving average is $84.64. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1-year low of $65.25 and a 1-year high of $92.64. The firm has a market capitalization of $186.49 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.83, a PEG ratio of 1.87 and a beta of 0.69. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.87, a quick ratio of 0.97 and a current ratio of 1.24.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 5th. The company reported $1.16 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.15 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 21.01% and a return on equity of 49.41%. The company had revenue of $11.87 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $11.71 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $1.04 earnings per share. Merck & Co., Inc.’s revenue was up 7.9% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 5.72 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, April 7th. Shareholders of record on Monday, March 16th will be paid a dividend of $0.61 per share. This represents a $2.44 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.40%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, March 13th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 47.01%.

Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

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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