Cacti Asset Management LLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 0.2% in the 4th quarter, HoldingsChannel.com reports. The fund owned 740,131 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 1,291 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. makes up approximately 3.4% of Cacti Asset Management LLC’s holdings, making the stock its 14th biggest holding. Cacti Asset Management LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $41,647,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

A number of other institutional investors have also modified their holdings of the stock. Atlantic Trust Group LLC grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 59.6% in the third quarter. Atlantic Trust Group LLC now owns 3,212,984 shares of the company’s stock worth $205,729,000 after acquiring an additional 1,200,259 shares during the period. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 8.6% during the third quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 8,199,448 shares of the company’s stock worth $525,011,000 after buying an additional 647,712 shares during the period. AXA boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the third quarter. AXA now owns 1,266,367 shares of the company’s stock worth $81,085,000 after buying an additional 4,987 shares during the period. Asset Planning Services Ltd. boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 131.6% during the third quarter. Asset Planning Services Ltd. now owns 350,871 shares of the company’s stock worth $22,466,000 after buying an additional 199,340 shares during the period. Finally, Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1,394.7% during the third quarter. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC now owns 5,366 shares of the company’s stock worth $344,000 after buying an additional 5,007 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 72.85% of the company’s stock.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, January 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total value of $290,000.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 101,484 shares in the company, valued at $5,886,072. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP Michael J. Holston sold 12,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, January 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.63, for a total value of $770,375.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders sold 82,500 shares of company stock worth $5,026,025. Insiders own 0.25% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) opened at $54.90 on Thursday. The stock has a market capitalization of $149,570.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 59.03, a PEG ratio of 2.49 and a beta of 0.75. 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 52 week low of $53.36 and a 52 week high of $66.80.

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

Merck & Co., Inc. announced that its board has authorized a share buyback plan on Tuesday, November 28th that allows the company to repurchase $10.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

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

MRK has been the subject of several research analyst reports. BMO Capital Markets set a $68.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Citigroup upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. to a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, October 30th. UBS Group lowered their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $72.00 to $67.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, October 30th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $70.00 price target on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, October 29th. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “buy” rating and set a $64.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Wednesday, November 15th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.35.

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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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