Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) stock jumped 3.53% on Friday to $87.51 against a previous-day closing price of $84.53. With 12.33 million shares changed hands, the volume of the stock remained heavier than its average volume of 8.93 million shares. During the session, the Drug Manufacturers – General company that operates in wider Healthcare sector, reached to the highest price of $88.15 whereas the lowest price it dropped to was $84.55. The 52-week range on MRK shows that it touched its highest point at $95.72 and its lowest point at $71.50 during that stretch. It currently has a 1-year price target of $100.85. With its current market cap of 219.24 billion, MRK has annualized dividend of $2.76 while the current yield stands at 3.15%. Beta for the stock currently stands at 0.34.
Price Performance and Earnings:
Stock performance is one of the indicators that investors use to determine whether they will profit from a stock. The price performance of MRK was up-trending over the past week, with a rise of 0.88%, but this was down by -2.98% over a month. Three-month performance dropped to -4.88% while six-month performance rose 9.76%. The stock gained 21.47% in the past year, while it has gained 14.18% so far this year. A look at the trailing 12-month EPS for MRK yields 6.56 with Next year EPS estimates of 7.45. For the next quarter, that number is 1.75. This implies an EPS growth rate of 173.50% for this year and 1.10% for next year. EPS is expected to grow by 11.07% annually over the next five years; however, over the past five years, the company experienced an annual growth rate of 28.20%.
Float and Shares Shorts:
At present, 2.53 billion MRK shares are outstanding with a float of 2.53 billion shares on hand for trading. On Jul 14, 2022, short shares totaled 20.33 million, which was 0.80% higher than short shares on Jun 14, 2022. In addition to Mr. Kenneth C. Frazier as the firm’s Exec. Chairman, Mr. Robert M. Davis J.D. serves as its Pres, CEO & Director.
Through their ownership of 75.30% of MRK’s outstanding shares, institutional investors have majority control over the company. Other institutions hold 38.59% of MRK, in contrast to 37.35% held by mutual funds. Shares owned by individuals account for 0.14%. As the largest shareholder in MRK with 8.31% of the stake, The Vanguard Group, Inc. holds 210,431,356 shares worth 210,431,356. A second-largest stockholder of MRK, BlackRock Fund Advisors, holds 137,140,563 shares, controlling over 5.41% of the firm’s shares. SSgA Funds Management, Inc. is the third largest shareholder in MRK, holding 117,791,629 shares or 4.65% stake. With a 2.96% stake in MRK, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index is the largest stakeholder. A total of 74,870,424 shares are owned by the mutual fund manager. The Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which owns about 2.23% of MRK stock, is the second-largest Mutual Fund holder. It holds 56,435,984 shares valued at 4.82 billion. Fidelity 500 Index Fund holds 1.07% of the stake in MRK, owning 27,152,738 shares worth 2.32 billion.
Reading analyst opinions is an effective way to decide where to invest, and there are several opinions available for MRK since 25 analysts follow the stock currently. There are 12 analysts who recommend BUY ratings, while 0 suggest SELL ratings. Of the remaining analysts, 10 believe that the stock is worth HOLDING, 3 give it an OVERWEIGHT rating, and 0 thinks that it’s UNDERWEIGHT. In the same way, a target price assigned to a stock can also reveal much about its potential. With MRK analysts setting a high price target of $125.00 and a low target of $85.00, the average target price over the next 12 months is $100.58. Based on these targets, MRK could surge 42.84% to reach the target high and fall by -2.87% to reach the target low. Reaching the average price target will result in a growth of 14.94% from current levels.
EPS: Estimates vs Actual
It is also common to use earnings estimates to evaluate a firm’s growth potential and to determine trading strategy. MRK will report FY 2022 earnings on 02/02/2023. Analysts have provided yearly estimates in a range of $7.67 being high and $7.25 being low. For MRK, this leads to a yearly average estimate of $7.39. The earnings surprise of a firm occurs when the actual results change from the consensus earnings estimate. Merck & Co. Inc. surprised analysts by $0.17 when it reported $1.87 EPS against a consensus estimate of $1.70. The surprise factor in the prior quarter was $0.31. Based on analyst estimates, the high estimate for the next quarter is $1.94 and the low estimate is $1.54. The average estimate for the next quarter is thus $1.76.
Summary of Insider Activity:
Insiders traded MRK stock several times over the past three months with 0 Buys and 0 Sells. In these transactions, 0 shares were bought while 0 shares were sold. The number of buy transactions has increased to 49 while that of sell transactions has risen to 33 over the past year. The total number of shares bought during that period was 1,303,765 while 1,043,898 shares were sold.