Asset Planning Services Ltd. grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 131.6% in the third quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm owned 350,871 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 199,340 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. comprises about 12.4% of Asset Planning Services Ltd.’s portfolio, making the stock its 2nd largest holding. Asset Planning Services Ltd.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $22,466,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Oakworth Capital Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.3% during the 2nd quarter. Oakworth Capital Inc. now owns 24,614 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,578,000 after buying an additional 795 shares during the last quarter. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 24.3% during the 2nd quarter. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 20,879 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,338,000 after buying an additional 4,082 shares during the last quarter. Menora Mivtachim Holdings LTD. lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 64.0% during the 2nd quarter. Menora Mivtachim Holdings LTD. now owns 698,195 shares of the company’s stock worth $44,747,000 after buying an additional 272,500 shares during the last quarter. Candriam Luxembourg S.C.A. lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 94.8% during the 2nd quarter. Candriam Luxembourg S.C.A. now owns 606,910 shares of the company’s stock worth $38,899,000 after buying an additional 295,293 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Telemus Capital LLC lifted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.1% during the 2nd quarter. Telemus Capital LLC now owns 24,604 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,577,000 after buying an additional 734 shares during the last quarter. 72.85% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) opened at $54.90 on Wednesday. The company has a quick ratio of 1.16, a current ratio of 1.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1-year low of $53.36 and a 1-year high of $66.80. The company has a market cap of $149,570.00, a PE ratio of 59.03, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.46 and a beta of 0.75.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its earnings results on Friday, February 2nd. The company reported $0.98 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.04. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 6.40% and a return on equity of 27.73%. The firm had revenue of $10.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.48 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.89 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.1% compared to the same quarter last year. equities research analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.15 earnings per share for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its board has approved a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, November 28th that permits the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 6th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, March 15th will be issued a $0.48 dividend. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.50%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 206.45%.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $53.57, for a total value of $267,850.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $273,207. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 60,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, January 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total transaction of $3,697,800.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares in the company, valued at $6,254,458.92. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 82,500 shares of company stock worth $5,026,025. Insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

A number of research firms have recently issued reports on MRK. DZ Bank upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Morgan Stanley cut shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and set a $56.00 target price for the company. in a research note on Monday, October 30th. Credit Suisse Group cut their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $67.00 to $66.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research note on Monday, February 5th. UBS Group cut their target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $72.00 to $67.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research note on Monday, October 30th. Finally, ValuEngine cut shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, February 2nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $66.88.

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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.

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

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