Traders sold shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) on strength during trading hours on Tuesday. $81.00 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $195.36 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $114.36 million out of the stock. Of all companies tracked, Merck & Co., Inc. had the 17th highest net out-flow for the day. Merck & Co., Inc. traded up $0.36 for the day and closed at $81.23

MRK has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Credit Suisse Group set a $86.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 13th. Morgan Stanley set a $81.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Citigroup set a $65.00 price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 20th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $83.00 price objective on the stock in a research report on Friday, January 4th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets lowered Merck & Co., Inc. from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating and set a $80.00 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, January 23rd. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $77.06.

The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.74, a current ratio of 1.17 and a quick ratio of 0.92. The stock has a market capitalization of $219.17 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.78, a P/E/G ratio of 1.99 and a beta of 0.62.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Friday, February 1st. The company reported $1.04 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.01. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 36.83% and a net margin of 14.71%. The company had revenue of $11 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.93 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.98 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, equities analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.65 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 5th. Investors of record on Friday, March 15th will be given a dividend of $0.55 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 14th. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.70%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 50.69%.

In related news, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.71, for a total transaction of $393,550.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at $401,421. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Leslie A. Brun sold 3,052 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $77.22, for a total value of $235,675.44. Following the sale, the director now owns 5,000 shares in the company, valued at $386,100. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 709,324 shares of company stock worth $56,162,582 over the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 53,150,490 shares of the company’s stock valued at $696,000 after purchasing an additional 52,855,811 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 184,252.6% during the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,985,039 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,765,600,000 after purchasing an additional 38,963,892 shares in the last quarter. Norges Bank bought a new stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $2,166,688,000. Capital International Investors boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 178.2% during the third quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 32,984,606 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,339,928,000 after purchasing an additional 21,127,887 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Jennison Associates LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 323.1% during the fourth quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 15,777,286 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,205,542,000 after purchasing an additional 12,048,406 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.55% of the company’s stock.

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About Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates in four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, asthma, nasal allergy, allergic rhinitis, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, fungal, intra-abdominal, hypertension, arthritis and pain, inflammatory, osteoporosis, and fertility diseases.

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