Rational Advisors LLC trimmed its stake in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 49.3% in the second quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund owned 13,713 shares of the company’s stock after selling 13,348 shares during the quarter. Rational Advisors LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $832,000 as of its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently modified their holdings of MRK. Rockland Trust Co. acquired a new stake in Merck & Co., Inc. during the second quarter worth approximately $3,949,000. Middleton & Co Inc MA grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.0% during the first quarter. Middleton & Co Inc MA now owns 157,307 shares of the company’s stock worth $8,569,000 after purchasing an additional 6,063 shares during the period. Sawyer & Company Inc grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.7% during the second quarter. Sawyer & Company Inc now owns 22,984 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,395,000 after purchasing an additional 2,215 shares during the period. Stephens Inc. AR grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.7% during the first quarter. Stephens Inc. AR now owns 365,496 shares of the company’s stock worth $19,909,000 after purchasing an additional 9,526 shares during the period. Finally, Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC grew its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 37.0% during the second quarter. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC now owns 122,748 shares of the company’s stock worth $7,451,000 after purchasing an additional 33,153 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 72.18% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities research analysts have commented on MRK shares. Barclays raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $75.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research note on Friday, September 7th. SunTrust Banks reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $77.00 price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Thursday, August 16th. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $80.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Monday, October 8th. Guggenheim started coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Monday, October 8th. They issued a “buy” rating for the company. Finally, Credit Suisse Group raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $71.00 to $81.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Thursday. Five analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $69.80.

In related news, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 279,850 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on 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 sale, the chairman now directly owns 971,800 shares in the company, valued at $70,037,626. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. purchased 666,666 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 1st. The shares were acquired at an average price of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $9,999,990.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold 929,360 shares of company stock worth $64,370,599 in the last 90 days. Corporate insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

Shares of MRK stock traded up $1.44 during trading hours on Friday, reaching $69.81. The company 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 company has a quick ratio of 1.04, a current ratio of 1.33 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. The firm has a market capitalization of $191.27 billion, a PE ratio of 17.54, a P/E/G ratio of 2.22 and a beta of 0.81.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $1.06 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ 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 for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.28 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.01 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.27 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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

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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