EP Wealth Advisors LLC Trims Stock Holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

EP Wealth Advisors LLC decreased its position in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 13.0% during the 4th quarter, according to its most recent Form 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 11,004 shares of the company’s stock after selling 1,645 shares during the quarter. EP Wealth Advisors LLC’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $841,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other institutional investors have also recently bought and sold shares of the company. Vanguard Group Inc grew its position in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.5% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 202,833,998 shares of the company’s stock worth $14,389,044,000 after buying an additional 924,701 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 5.6% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 194,589,541 shares of the company’s stock worth $14,868,587,000 after purchasing an additional 10,315,510 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 17,936.7% during the fourth 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 during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC lifted its stake in 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 worth $2,596,161,000 after purchasing an additional 3,219,877 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp lifted its stake in Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.0% during the fourth quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 32,497,759 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,483,154,000 after purchasing an additional 951,911 shares during the last quarter. 75.08% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

NYSE:MRK traded up $0.02 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $83.85. 44,546,581 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 9,402,698. The company has a quick ratio of 1.06, a current ratio of 1.37 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.82. The business’s fifty day moving average is $81.40. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $59.92 and a one year high of $86.50. The company has a market cap of $215.83 billion, a PE ratio of 19.32, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.79 and a beta of 0.55.

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

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

MRK has been the subject of several recent analyst reports. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 target price on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a research note on Monday, March 4th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $93.00 price target for the company in a research note on Monday, April 1st. ValuEngine cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, April 18th. BMO Capital Markets increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $83.00 to $84.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 1st. Finally, Bank of America increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $90.00 to $91.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 1st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $86.93.

In other news, EVP Frank Clyburn sold 25,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.73, for a total value of $1,943,250.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 92,604 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,198,108.92. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 4,121,683 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction dated Monday, April 8th. The stock was purchased at an average price of $16.00 per share, with a total value of $65,946,928.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 276,718 shares of company stock valued at $23,257,469. Company insiders own 0.27% of the company’s stock.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

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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