Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Short Interest Up 13.2% in November

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) saw a large increase in short interest in the month of November. As of November 29th, there was short interest totalling 24,670,000 shares, an increase of 13.2% from the November 14th total of 21,790,000 shares. Currently, 1.0% of the shares of the company are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 8,380,000 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 2.9 days.

A number of equities analysts recently commented on MRK shares. Morgan Stanley raised their target price on Merck & Co., Inc. from $90.00 to $95.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 13th. Leerink Swann began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Thursday, August 15th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $103.00 target price on the stock. Bank of America began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Wednesday, October 16th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $90.00 price target on the stock. ValuEngine cut Merck & Co., Inc. from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 2nd. Finally, Svb Leerink began coverage on Merck & Co., Inc. in a report on Friday, August 16th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $103.00 price target on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Merck & Co., Inc. currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $95.47.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. KBC Group NV boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 18.4% during the second quarter. KBC Group NV now owns 2,106,832 shares of the company’s stock valued at $176,658,000 after buying an additional 327,901 shares during the period. Cutter & CO Brokerage Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the second quarter valued at approximately $1,145,000. Janus Henderson Group PLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 7.8% during the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 24,839,949 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,082,840,000 after buying an additional 1,790,405 shares during the period. Emerald Advisers LLC purchased a new position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. during the second quarter valued at approximately $201,000. Finally, CWM LLC boosted its position in shares of Merck & Co., Inc. by 8.9% during the second quarter. CWM LLC now owns 33,108 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,776,000 after buying an additional 2,711 shares during the period. 74.54% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Shares of MRK stock traded down $0.86 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $88.71. The stock had a trading volume of 1,296,003 shares, compared to its average volume of 7,747,497. Merck & Co., Inc. has a one year low of $70.89 and a one year high of $89.96. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.84, a current ratio of 1.26 and a quick ratio of 0.98. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $85.61 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $84.18. The stock has a market capitalization of $226.54 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.44, a PEG ratio of 1.93 and a beta of 0.52.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, October 29th. The company reported $1.51 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.24 by $0.27. Merck & Co., Inc. had a return on equity of 48.16% and a net margin of 20.26%. The firm had revenue of $12.40 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $11.59 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.19 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 14.9% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, equities research analysts predict that Merck & Co., Inc. will post 5.15 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, January 8th. Stockholders of record on Monday, December 16th will be issued a $0.61 dividend. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.75%. This is a boost from Merck & Co., Inc.’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.55. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, December 13th. Merck & Co., Inc.’s payout ratio is 50.69%.

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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