Leavell Investment Management Inc. decreased its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 2.1% during the 3rd quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The institutional investor owned 71,406 shares of the company’s stock after selling 1,540 shares during the quarter. Leavell Investment Management Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $4,572,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Other hedge funds also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Perennial Advisors LLC raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% in the 2nd quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC now owns 1,626 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,000 after purchasing an additional 157 shares during the last quarter. Stelac Advisory Services LLC bought a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 2nd quarter valued at $104,000. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 15.5% in the 2nd quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,727 shares of the company’s stock valued at $111,000 after purchasing an additional 232 shares during the last quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC raised its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 6.3% in the 2nd quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,940 shares of the company’s stock valued at $124,000 after purchasing an additional 115 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Harbour Capital Advisors LLC bought a new position in Merck & Co., Inc. in the 1st quarter valued at $127,000. 73.63% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Several brokerages have issued reports on MRK. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $72.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, September 8th. Leerink Swann lifted their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $69.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research report on Monday, October 23rd. Jefferies Group restated a “sell” rating and set a $55.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, October 20th. Finally, Cowen restated a “hold” rating and set a $70.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.29.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) opened at $56.34 on Wednesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $153,660.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 54.70, a PEG ratio of 2.91 and a beta of 0.76. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.63 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a current ratio of 1.43.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its earnings results on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.03 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.54 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 27.08% and a net margin of 11.60%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.07 earnings per share. research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be issued a $0.48 dividend. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.41%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 14th. This is an increase from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 186.41%.

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has approved a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total value of $281,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Corporate insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

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Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

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.

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

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