Hexavest Inc. Reduces Stake in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

Hexavest Inc. lessened its holdings in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) by 21.1% in the second quarter, according to the company in its most recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 1,224,625 shares of the company’s stock after selling 327,439 shares during the quarter. Merck & Co., Inc. accounts for 1.0% of Hexavest Inc.’s portfolio, making the stock its 26th largest position. Hexavest Inc.’s holdings in Merck & Co., Inc. were worth $74,335,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also modified their holdings of the company. Summit X LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 9.2% in the 1st quarter. Summit X LLC now owns 10,093 shares of the company’s stock worth $552,000 after acquiring an additional 850 shares in the last quarter. Pegasus Asset Management Inc. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 4.2% in the 1st quarter. Pegasus Asset Management Inc. now owns 21,794 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,187,000 after acquiring an additional 873 shares in the last quarter. San Francisco Sentry Investment Group CA grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 3.6% in the 4th quarter. San Francisco Sentry Investment Group CA now owns 25,156 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,416,000 after acquiring an additional 885 shares in the last quarter. Alpha Cubed Investments LLC grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 11.0% in the 1st quarter. Alpha Cubed Investments LLC now owns 8,970 shares of the company’s stock worth $489,000 after acquiring an additional 887 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Outfitter Advisors LTD. grew its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 1.6% in the 1st quarter. Outfitter Advisors LTD. now owns 55,998 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,050,000 after acquiring an additional 890 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.08% of the company’s stock.

In other Merck & Co., Inc. news, EVP Julie L. Gerberding sold 9,972 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.66, for a total transaction of $594,929.52. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Chairman Kenneth C. Frazier sold 228,091 shares of Merck & Co., Inc. stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total value of $14,825,915.00. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 938,788 shares in the company, valued at approximately $61,021,220. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 406,365 shares of company stock worth $25,829,990 in the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. opened at $66.07 on Friday, Marketbeat.com reports. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 1.10 and a current ratio of 1.33. The firm has a market cap of $179.81 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.60, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.30 and a beta of 0.80. Merck & Co., Inc. has a 1-year low of $52.83 and a 1-year high of $66.99.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last announced its earnings results on Friday, July 27th. The company reported $1.06 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.03 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $10.47 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $10.28 billion. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 32.68% and a net margin of 3.67%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.01 EPS. research analysts forecast that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 4.27 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 5th. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 17th will be paid a dividend of $0.48 per share. This represents a $1.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.91%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 14th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is currently 48.24%.

MRK has been the subject of several research reports. Goldman Sachs Group upgraded Merck & Co., Inc. from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and decreased their target price for the stock from $60.15 to $58.83 in a research report on Monday, April 23rd. Morgan Stanley raised Merck & Co., Inc. from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and raised their price target for the stock from $59.80 to $63.00 in a report on Tuesday, April 17th. Zacks Investment Research raised Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $66.00 price target on the stock in a report on Tuesday, April 17th. Jefferies Financial Group reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $59.00 price target on shares of Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Sunday, July 15th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets raised their price target on Merck & Co., Inc. from $65.00 to $70.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, April 26th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company. Merck & Co., Inc. has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $66.24.

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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