Essex Financial Services Inc. grew its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 9.5% in the second quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 34,804 shares of the company’s stock after acquiring an additional 3,017 shares during the quarter. Essex Financial Services Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $2,113,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently bought and sold shares of the company. Cobblestone Capital Advisors LLC NY boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% during the 2nd quarter. Cobblestone Capital Advisors LLC NY now owns 187,080 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,356,000 after buying an additional 774 shares during the last quarter. Checchi Capital Advisers LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.0% during the 2nd quarter. Checchi Capital Advisers LLC now owns 26,914 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,634,000 after buying an additional 792 shares during the last quarter. Mckinley Capital Management LLC Delaware boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.6% during the 2nd quarter. Mckinley Capital Management LLC Delaware now owns 15,447 shares of the company’s stock valued at $938,000 after buying an additional 815 shares during the last quarter. Brick & Kyle Associates boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.7% during the 2nd quarter. Brick & Kyle Associates now owns 50,020 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,036,000 after buying an additional 830 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Summit X LLC boosted its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% during the 1st quarter. Summit X LLC now owns 10,093 shares of the company’s stock valued at $552,000 after buying an additional 850 shares during the last quarter. 72.18% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Shares of NYSE:MRK traded up $1.44 on Friday, hitting $69.81. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 9,113,948 shares, compared to its average volume of 10,634,493. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12 month low of $52.83 and a 12 month high of $72.89. The stock has a market cap of $191.27 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.54, a PEG ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.81. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.04 and a current ratio of 1.33.

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

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 5th. Stockholders of record on Monday, September 17th were paid a $0.48 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, September 14th. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.75%. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 48.24%.

In related news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,850 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $72.07, for a total transaction of $20,168,789.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now owns 971,800 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $70,037,626. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Adam H. Schechter sold 107,360 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.18, for a total value of $7,534,524.80. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 100,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,018,000. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 929,360 shares of company stock valued at $64,370,599. Company insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

Several equities research analysts recently issued reports on the company. Zacks Investment Research lowered Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, June 18th. Credit Suisse Group upped their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $71.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Thursday. Barclays upped their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $75.00 to $78.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday. Guggenheim assumed coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Monday, October 8th. They set a “buy” rating on the stock. Finally, SunTrust Banks reissued a “buy” rating and set a $77.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Thursday, August 16th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have given a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $69.80.

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

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