Merck & Sees Unusually High Options Volume (NYSE:MRK)

Merck & Company, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was the recipient of unusually large options trading activity on Friday. Traders acquired 20,366 put options on the stock. This represents an increase of 520% compared to the typical daily volume of 3,284 put options.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of MRK. WFG Advisors LP raised its position in Merck & by 16.9% in the second quarter. WFG Advisors LP now owns 13,478 shares of the company’s stock valued at $864,000 after buying an additional 1,946 shares during the last quarter. Toronto Dominion Bank increased its stake in shares of Merck & by 22.4% in the second quarter. Toronto Dominion Bank now owns 1,019,846 shares of the company’s stock worth $65,359,000 after buying an additional 186,774 shares during the last quarter. Afam Capital Inc. increased its stake in shares of Merck & by 14.5% in the second quarter. Afam Capital Inc. now owns 36,755 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,356,000 after buying an additional 4,667 shares during the last quarter. Beaton Management Co. Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Merck & during the second quarter worth about $1,143,000. Finally, Fort Pitt Capital Group LLC increased its stake in shares of Merck & by 2.5% in the second quarter. Fort Pitt Capital Group LLC now owns 22,061 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,414,000 after buying an additional 541 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.46% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Merck & (MRK) traded down 0.57% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $61.49. 8,421,689 shares of the stock traded hands. Merck & has a 52 week low of $58.29 and a 52 week high of $66.80. The stock has a market capitalization of $167.71 billion, a P/E ratio of 33.29 and a beta of 0.80. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $62.91 and a 200-day moving average price of $63.83.

Merck & (NYSE:MRK) last posted its earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The company reported $1.01 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.14. Merck & had a net margin of 17.14% and a return on equity of 26.02%. The firm had revenue of $9.93 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $9.75 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $0.93 EPS. The business’s revenue was up .9% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that Merck & will post $3.87 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 6th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 15th will be paid a $0.47 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 14th. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.06%. Merck &’s payout ratio is 76.11%.

Several research firms have weighed in on MRK. BidaskClub cut shares of Merck & from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. HSBC Holdings plc raised shares of Merck & from a “reduce” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 9th. UBS AG lifted their target price on shares of Merck & from $70.00 to $72.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, July 31st. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Merck & in a research note on Tuesday, June 6th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Merck & from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 2nd. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $69.58.

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About Merck &

Merck & Co, Inc is a global healthcare company. The Company offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. It operates through four segments: Pharmaceutical, Animal Health, Healthcare Services and Alliances. The Company’s Pharmaceutical segment includes human health pharmaceutical and vaccine products marketed either directly by the Company or through joint ventures.

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