Fairfield Bush & CO. raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 13.6% during the first quarter, according to its most recent filing with the SEC. The firm owned 21,318 shares of the company’s stock after purchasing an additional 2,550 shares during the period. Fairfield Bush & CO.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $1,640,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also bought and sold shares of the company. Banco Santander S.A. boosted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 11.4% in the 1st quarter. Banco Santander S.A. now owns 271,617 shares of the company’s stock worth $20,899,000 after purchasing an additional 27,758 shares in the last quarter. Novare Capital Management LLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 31.1% in the 4th quarter. Novare Capital Management LLC now owns 4,393 shares of the company’s stock worth $400,000 after acquiring an additional 1,043 shares in the last quarter. Aviva PLC increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.5% in the 4th quarter. Aviva PLC now owns 1,633,882 shares of the company’s stock worth $148,602,000 after acquiring an additional 85,045 shares in the last quarter. Shoker Investment Counsel Inc. increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.9% in the 4th quarter. Shoker Investment Counsel Inc. now owns 22,031 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,003,000 after acquiring an additional 417 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Alliance Wealth Management Group increased its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 42.9% in the 4th quarter. Alliance Wealth Management Group now owns 10,390 shares of the company’s stock worth $945,000 after acquiring an additional 3,118 shares in the last quarter. 74.33% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

MRK has been the subject of a number of research reports. Mizuho reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Wednesday, February 5th. Credit Suisse Group restated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Monday, May 4th. Royal Bank of Canada dropped their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $92.00 to $89.00 and set a “sector perform” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, April 1st. Barclays dropped their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $93.00 to $90.00 and set an “overweight” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, April 29th. Finally, Guggenheim decreased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $101.00 to $93.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, April 29th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $94.21.

Merck & Co., Inc. stock traded up $1.22 during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $82.06. 13,022,644 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,903,773. The company has a market capitalization of $204.50 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.64, a P/E/G ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.50. The firm’s 50-day simple moving average is $79.39 and its 200-day simple moving average is $83.05. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1 year low of $65.25 and a 1 year high of $92.64. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82, a quick ratio of 0.87 and a current ratio of 1.11.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 28th. The company reported $1.50 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.34 by $0.16. The company had revenue of $12.06 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $11.46 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 52.46% and a net margin of 21.10%. The firm’s revenue was up 11.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.22 EPS. On average, analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 5.31 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, July 7th. Stockholders of record on Monday, June 15th will be paid a $0.61 dividend. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.97%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, June 12th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 47.01%.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, Director Wendell P. Weeks sold 5,000 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $76.02, for a total transaction of $380,100.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 5,100 shares in the company, valued at approximately $387,702. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Insiders own 0.28% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, intra-abdominal, fungal infection, insomnia, and inflammatory diseases.

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

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