American Century Companies Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) by 13.3% during the 1st quarter, according to the company in its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The firm owned 9,567,645 shares of the company’s stock after buying an additional 1,125,931 shares during the quarter. American Century Companies Inc. owned approximately 0.35% of Merck & Co. worth $521,150,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

A number of other hedge funds have also modified their holdings of the stock. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in Merck & Co. by 0.7% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,848,368 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,401,418,000 after buying an additional 1,255,336 shares during the period. Franklin Resources Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co. by 58.4% in the fourth quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 43,221,157 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,432,154,000 after purchasing an additional 15,932,771 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC grew its holdings in Merck & Co. by 3.4% in the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 29,116,826 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,634,999,000 after purchasing an additional 957,657 shares during the last quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. grew its holdings in Merck & Co. by 5.4% in the fourth quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 11,698,584 shares of the company’s stock worth $658,298,000 after purchasing an additional 597,089 shares during the last quarter. Finally, OppenheimerFunds Inc. grew its holdings in Merck & Co. by 0.6% in the fourth quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. now owns 11,074,841 shares of the company’s stock worth $623,182,000 after purchasing an additional 64,887 shares during the last quarter. 73.14% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Several research firms have issued reports on MRK. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 16th. Deutsche Bank reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, April 25th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, April 25th. Leerink Swann cut their price target on shares of Merck & Co. from $69.00 to $67.00 and set a “market perform” rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, February 6th. Finally, Jefferies Group set a $55.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, March 23rd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co. presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $65.87.

In related news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 24,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, April 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $1,392,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 9,972 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.66, for a total transaction of $594,929.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

NYSE:MRK opened at $59.53 on Friday. Merck & Co. has a 12 month low of $52.83 and a 12 month high of $66.41. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.63, a current ratio of 1.42 and a quick ratio of 1.10. The firm has a market cap of $157.46 billion, a PE ratio of 14.96, a P/E/G ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.76.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, May 1st. The company reported $1.05 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.00 by $0.05. Merck & Co. had a net margin of 4.31% and a return on equity of 30.93%. The business had revenue of $10.04 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.09 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.88 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.4% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts predict that Merck & Co. will post 4.23 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 9th. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, June 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.23%. Merck & Co.’s payout ratio is currently 48.24%.

About Merck & Co.

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

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