Traders Purchase High Volume of Merck & Co., Inc. Call Options (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) was the target of some unusual options trading on Thursday. Investors purchased 44,893 call options on the stock. This is an increase of approximately 52% compared to the average volume of 29,440 call options.

Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Performance

NYSE MRK opened at $87.51 on Friday. The stock has a 50-day simple moving average of $88.83 and a two-hundred day simple moving average of $87.81. The firm has a market capitalization of $221.69 billion, a P/E ratio of 13.40, a PEG ratio of 1.16 and a beta of 0.33. Merck & Co., Inc. has a fifty-two week low of $71.50 and a fifty-two week high of $95.72. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.66, a quick ratio of 1.15 and a current ratio of 1.39.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRKGet Rating) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 28th. The company reported $1.87 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.67 by $0.20. The business had revenue of $14.59 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $13.85 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 48.45% and a net margin of 29.00%. The company’s revenue was up 28.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $1.31 EPS. On average, equities analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 7.33 earnings per share for the current year.

Merck & Co., Inc. Dividend Announcement

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 7th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a dividend of $0.69 per share. This represents a $2.76 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.15%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, September 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 42.27%.

Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades

Several brokerages have issued reports on MRK. Mizuho began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a research report on Friday, June 24th. They set a “buy” rating and a $100.00 target price on the stock. SVB Leerink increased their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $105.00 to $109.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Erste Group Bank raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, August 25th. Morgan Stanley increased their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $88.00 to $92.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Friday, July 29th. Finally, Atlantic Securities raised their price objective on Merck & Co., Inc. from $105.00 to $110.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 13th. Seven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the company. According to data from MarketBeat.com, Merck & Co., Inc. has a consensus rating of “Moderate Buy” and a consensus price target of $98.28.

Institutional Investors Weigh In On Merck & Co., Inc.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. E&G Advisors LP grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.7% during the 2nd quarter. E&G Advisors LP now owns 16,378 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,493,000 after acquiring an additional 110 shares during the period. Stiles Financial Services Inc boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.3% in the 2nd quarter. Stiles Financial Services Inc now owns 8,436 shares of the company’s stock worth $769,000 after buying an additional 110 shares during the last quarter. Paulson Wealth Management Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.9% in the 1st quarter. Paulson Wealth Management Inc. now owns 6,144 shares of the company’s stock worth $504,000 after buying an additional 115 shares during the last quarter. Secure Asset Management LLC boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Secure Asset Management LLC now owns 30,185 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,752,000 after buying an additional 115 shares during the last quarter. Finally, David R. Rahn & Associates Inc. boosted its holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. by 2.3% in the 2nd quarter. David R. Rahn & Associates Inc. now owns 5,156 shares of the company’s stock worth $470,000 after buying an additional 115 shares during the last quarter. 73.33% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Merck & Co., Inc.

(Get Rating)

Merck & Co, Inc operates as a healthcare company worldwide. It operates through two segments, Pharmaceutical and Animal Health. The Pharmaceutical segment offers human health pharmaceutical products in the areas of oncology, hospital acute care, immunology, neuroscience, virology, cardiovascular, and diabetes, as well as vaccine products, such as preventive pediatric, adolescent, and adult vaccines.

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