The Vanguard Group, Inc. recently announced the acquisition of new stake in Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK). The institutional investor has increased its shareholding in the Healthcare company by 1.44% to 213.46 million shares with purchase of 3.03 million shares. This fresh investment now brings its stake to 8.43% valued currently at $21.6 billion. In addition, BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its holdings by 0.7 million to 137.84 million shares. And Geode Capital Management LLC has lifted its position by 4.58% or 2.11 million shares – to 48.1 million shares.
With over 8.88 million Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) shares trading Monday and a closing price of $105.61 on the day, the dollar volume was approximately $937.47 million. The shares have shown a positive half year performance of 12.55% and its price on 11/21/22 gained nearly 1.32%. Currently, there are 2.53B common shares owned by the public and among those 2.53B shares have been available to trade.
An analysis of what Wall Street brokers have to say about the expected price targets for this stock gives us this picture: 26 analysts who have offered their price forecasts for MRK have a consensus price objective of $109.52. The analysts have set the share’s price value over the next 12 months at a high of $125.00 and a low of $100.00. The average price target is 3.73% above its recent price level and a downside to the estimated low will see the stock lose -5.61% over that period. But an upside of 15.51% will see the stock hit the forecast high price target while median target price for the stock is $110.00.
Insiders at the company have transacted a total of 95 times over the past 12 months, according to data filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 51 of these insider trades were purchases, accounting for 2,189,780 shares. Insider sales of the common stock occurred on 44 occasions, with total insider shares sold totaling 1,971,257 shares.
The top 3 mutual fund holders in Merck & Co. Inc. are Vanguard Total Stock Market Index, Vanguard 500 Index Fund, and SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index owns 76.03 million shares of the company’s stock, all valued at over $7.69 billion. The company bought an additional 0.37 million shares recently to bring their total holdings to about 3.00% of the shares outstanding. Vanguard 500 Index Fund bought 0.56 million shares to see its total holdings expand to 57.97 million shares valued at over $5.87 billion and representing 2.29% of the shares outstanding. SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust sold -0.29 million shares to bring its total holdings to over 28.52 million shares at a value of $2.89 billion. SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust now owns shares totaling to 1.13% of the shares outstanding.
Shares of Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) opened at $105.00, up $0.77 from a prior closing price of $104.23. However, the script later moved the day high at 105.87, up 1.32%. The company’s stock has a 5-day price change of 5.24% and 17.08% over the past three months. MRK shares are trading 37.80% year to date (YTD), with the 12-month market performance up to 30.87% higher. It has a 12-month low price of $71.50 and touched a high of $104.60 over the same period. MRK has an average intraday trading volume of 8.84 million shares. The stock is trading above its simple moving averages at the SMA20, SMA50, and SMA200, as the current price level is off by 5.52%, 13.14%, and 19.88% respectively.
Institutional ownership of Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) shares accounts for 76.50% of the company’s 2.53B shares outstanding. Mutual fund holders own 37.20%, while other institutional holders and individual stakeholders account for 39.19% and 0.14% respectively.
It has a market capitalization of $262.83B and a beta (3y monthly) value of 0.40. The stock’s trailing 12-month PE ratio is 17.50, while the earnings-per-share (ttm) stands at $6.04. The company has a PEG of 1.50 and a Quick Ratio of 1.20 with the debt-to-equity ratio at 0.68. Price movements for the stock have been influenced by the stock’s volatility, which stands at 1.79% over the week and 2.12% over the month.
Analysts forecast that Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) will achieve an EPS of $1.6 for the current quarter, $1.74 for the next quarter and $7.47 for 2023. The lowest estimate earnings-per-share for the quarter is $1.46 while analysts give the company a high EPS estimate of $1.73. Comparatively, EPS for the current quarter was $1.8 a year ago. Earnings per share for the fiscal year are expected to increase by 173.50%, and 2.41% over the next financial year. EPS should shrink at an annualized rate of 11.67% over the next five years, compared to 28.20% over the past 5-year period.
If you are looking to buy this stock, then you may note that the average analyst recommendation by 26 brokerage firm advisors rate Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) as a “Moderate Buy” at a consensus score of 2.10. Specifically, 14 Wall Street analysts polled rate the stock as a buy, while 9 of the 26 advise that investors “hold,” and 0 rated it as a “Sell.”
Looking at the support for the MRK, a number of firms have released research notes about the stock. Credit Suisse stated their Outperform rating for the stock in a research note on November 18, 2022, with the firm’s price target at $120. Berenberg was of a view on September 14, 2022 that the stock is Buy, while Daiwa Securities gave the stock Buy rating on July 06, 2022, issuing a price target of $89- $102. SVB Leerink on their part issued Outperform rating on June 06, 2022.