Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Getting Somewhat Favorable Media Coverage, Analysis Finds

Headlines about Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) have trended somewhat positive this week, InfoTrie Sentiment Analysis reports. The research firm rates the sentiment of press coverage by monitoring more than six thousand blog and news sources in real time. The firm ranks coverage of publicly-traded companies on a scale of negative five to five, with scores closest to five being the most favorable. Merck & Co., Inc. earned a media sentiment score of 1.67 on their scale. InfoTrie also assigned headlines about the company an news buzz score of 10 out of 10, meaning that recent press coverage is extremely likely to have an effect on the stock’s share price in the near future.

These are some of the headlines that may have impacted Merck & Co., Inc.’s ranking:

A number of brokerages have issued reports on MRK. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 16th. Bank of America increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $70.00 to $74.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 30th. Citigroup increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $79.00 to $84.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 31st. SunTrust Banks increased their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $77.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, October 29th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Sunday, July 22nd. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. Merck & Co., Inc. presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $71.92.

Merck & Co., Inc. stock traded down $0.62 during midday trading on Friday, reaching $74.86. 14,656,305 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 13,659,816. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 12-month low of $52.83 and a 12-month high of $75.99. The stock has a market capitalization of $202.43 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.81, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.04 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a current ratio of 1.44 and a quick ratio of 1.04.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The company reported $1.19 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.14 by $0.05. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 34.48% and a net margin of 8.44%. The company had revenue of $10.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $10.87 billion. Equities research analysts anticipate that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.34 earnings per share for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. declared that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase plan on Thursday, October 25th that permits the company to buyback $10.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to repurchase up to 5.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 8th. Investors of record on Monday, December 17th will be issued a dividend of $0.55 per share. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.94%. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.48. The ex-dividend date is Friday, December 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 48.24%.

In other news, major shareholder Merck & Co., Inc. bought 666,666 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 1st. The stock was bought at an average cost of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $9,999,990.00. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Roger M. Perlmutter sold 225,443 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.27, for a total value of $16,969,094.61. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 366,998 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $27,623,939.46. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 1,279,104 shares of company stock valued at $92,845,846 over the last 90 days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

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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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