HL Financial Services LLC trimmed its holdings in Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) by 1.4% in the first quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 215,741 shares of the company’s stock after selling 3,127 shares during the quarter. HL Financial Services LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co. were worth $11,751,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.
A number of other institutional investors and hedge funds have also made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co. by 0.7% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 184,848,368 shares of the company’s stock valued at $10,401,418,000 after purchasing an additional 1,255,336 shares in the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. boosted 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 valued at $2,432,154,000 after purchasing an additional 15,932,771 shares in the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC boosted 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 valued at $1,634,999,000 after purchasing an additional 957,657 shares in the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc boosted its holdings in Merck & Co. by 0.7% in the third quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 14,660,131 shares of the company’s stock valued at $938,669,000 after purchasing an additional 95,743 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted 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 valued at $658,298,000 after purchasing an additional 597,089 shares in the last quarter. 74.87% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
In other news, insider Weir Mirian M. Graddick sold 24,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $1,392,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 9,972 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.66, for a total value of $594,929.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.32% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results 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 return on equity of 30.93% and a net margin of 4.31%. The business had revenue of $10.04 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.09 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.88 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 6.4% compared to the same quarter last year. sell-side analysts anticipate that Merck & Co. will post 4.23 earnings per share for the current year.
A number of equities analysts recently issued reports on the company. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, April 25th. Deutsche Bank reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of Merck & Co. in a report on Wednesday, April 25th. Leerink Swann lowered their price target on Merck & Co. from $69.00 to $67.00 and set a “market perform” rating for the company in a report on Tuesday, February 6th. Finally, Jefferies Group set a $55.00 price objective on Merck & Co. and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, March 23rd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $65.87.
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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