Salem Investment Counselors Inc. Sells 772 Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

Salem Investment Counselors Inc. reduced its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 0.4% in the fourth quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm owned 213,514 shares of the company’s stock after selling 772 shares during the period. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for approximately 2.1% of Salem Investment Counselors Inc.’s holdings, making the stock its 12th biggest position. Salem Investment Counselors Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $16,315,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Other large investors also recently modified their holdings of the company. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% in the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 53,150,490 shares of the company’s stock worth $696,000 after purchasing an additional 52,855,811 shares in the last quarter. Jennison Associates LLC raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 323.1% in the 4th quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 15,777,286 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,205,542,000 after purchasing an additional 12,048,406 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.6% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 194,589,541 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,868,587,000 after acquiring an additional 10,315,510 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 10.4% during the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 34,032,366 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,596,161,000 after acquiring an additional 3,219,877 shares during the period. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 20.5% during the fourth quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 9,188,647 shares of the company’s stock valued at $702,106,000 after acquiring an additional 1,565,216 shares during the period. 75.08% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

MRK has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Bank of America boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $91.00 to $96.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, June 21st. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, May 3rd. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Monday, March 4th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $83.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 1st. Finally, UBS Group boosted their price objective on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. from $87.00 to $88.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, May 2nd. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $86.93.

Shares of NYSE MRK traded up $0.02 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $83.85. 44,546,500 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 11,065,626. The stock has a market cap of $215.09 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.32, a P/E/G ratio of 1.79 and a beta of 0.55. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $59.92 and a one year high of $86.50. The business’s 50 day moving average is $81.40. The company has a quick ratio of 1.06, a current ratio of 1.37 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, April 30th. The company reported $1.22 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.05 by $0.17. The firm had revenue of $10.82 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.45 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a net margin of 19.50% and a return on equity of 39.85%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 7.8% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $1.05 EPS. On average, analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.74 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, June 17th will be paid a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.62%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, June 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio is 50.69%.

In other news, CFO Robert M. Davis sold 216,718 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $85.43, for a total value of $18,514,218.74. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now owns 354,378 shares in the company, valued at approximately $30,274,512.54. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Richard R. Deluca sold 35,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, May 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $80.00, for a total transaction of $2,800,000.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 106,064 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $8,485,120. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders sold 276,718 shares of company stock valued at $23,257,469. Corporate insiders own 0.27% of the company’s stock.

Merck & Co., Inc. Company Profile

Merck & Co, Inc provides healthcare solutions worldwide. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services, and Alliances. The company offers therapeutic and preventive agents to treat cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, chronic hepatitis C virus, HIV-1 infection, intra-abdominal, fungal infection, insomnia, and inflammatory diseases.

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

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