Merck & Co., Inc. Target of Unusually Large Options Trading (MRK)

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the target of unusually large options trading on Thursday. Traders purchased 204,877 call options on the company. This is an increase of 1,651% compared to the typical volume of 11,698 call options.

Merck & Co., Inc. stock traded down $0.19 during midday trading on Friday, reaching $71.03. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 7,433,463 shares, compared to its average volume of 10,643,854. The stock has a market cap of $191.27 billion, a PE ratio of 17.85, a P/E/G ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.81. The company has a quick ratio of 1.04, a current ratio of 1.33 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 52 week low of $52.83 and a 52 week high of $72.42.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $1.06 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $10.47 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.28 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 32.68% and a net margin of 3.67%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 5.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $1.01 earnings per share. As a group, analysts expect that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.27 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 5th. Stockholders of record on Monday, September 17th were issued a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.70%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, September 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 48.24%.

In other news, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 666,666 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 1st. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $15.00 per share, with a total value of $9,999,990.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,850 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.07, for a total value of $20,168,789.50. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 971,800 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $70,037,626. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 929,360 shares of company stock valued at $64,370,599. 0.32% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 185,546,933 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,262,699,000 after purchasing an additional 831,243 shares during the period. Franklin Resources Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 13.6% in the 1st quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 49,101,614 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,674,552,000 after acquiring an additional 5,880,457 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% in the 2nd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 38,653,047 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,346,241,000 after acquiring an additional 3,242,430 shares in the last quarter. Morgan Stanley raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.9% in the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 15,905,834 shares of the company’s stock valued at $965,485,000 after acquiring an additional 149,438 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. increased its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 19.5% during the 2nd quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 14,733,548 shares of the company’s stock valued at $894,326,000 after purchasing an additional 2,406,836 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 72.18% of the company’s stock.

Several equities research analysts have issued reports on the company. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, October 1st. Barclays lifted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, September 7th. Morgan Stanley set a $74.00 target price on Merck & Co., Inc. and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, August 23rd. SunTrust Banks reissued a “buy” rating and set a $77.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Thursday, August 16th. Finally, Bank of America lifted their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 30th. Six analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $68.55.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

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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