South Dakota Investment Council Sells 55,595 Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)

South Dakota Investment Council reduced its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 31.0% during the 2nd quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 123,600 shares of the company’s stock after selling 55,595 shares during the period. South Dakota Investment Council’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $7,922,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds have also added to or reduced their stakes in MRK. Stelac Advisory Services LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the second quarter worth $104,000. Perennial Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% during the second quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC now owns 1,626 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 157 shares in the last quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 15.5% during the second quarter. Cascade Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,727 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 232 shares in the last quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 6.3% during the second quarter. Solaris Asset Management LLC now owns 1,940 shares of the company’s stock worth $124,000 after buying an additional 115 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Harbour Capital Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the first quarter worth $127,000. 73.84% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK) traded down $0.45 during trading on Wednesday, reaching $55.77. 11,837,100 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 9,650,887. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52-week low of $53.63 and a 52-week high of $66.80. The firm has a market capitalization of $148,010.00, a PE ratio of 14.45, a P/E/G ratio of 2.60 and a beta of 0.76. The company has a current ratio of 1.43, a quick ratio of 1.16 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Friday, October 27th. The company reported $1.11 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.08. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 11.60% and a return on equity of 27.08%. The firm had revenue of $10.33 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.54 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.07 earnings per share. Merck & Co., Inc.’s revenue was down 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, January 8th. Investors of record on Friday, December 15th will be given a dividend of $0.48 per share. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.44%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 182.52%.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback program on Tuesday, November 28th that authorizes the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of analysts recently issued reports on MRK shares. BMO Capital Markets set a $70.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 18th. Citigroup upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Wednesday, October 18th. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, October 29th. UBS reduced their price objective on shares of 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. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein restated a “buy” rating and set a $64.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Wednesday, November 15th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $66.29.

In related news, Director Thomas H. Glocer sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.20, for a total transaction of $281,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 0.25% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

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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.

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

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