Analysts Flashing a Green Light for Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)?

Analysts at Citigroup lifted target price for shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) but repeated their Buy recommendation for the stock in their opinion released on October 16. The price target has been raised from $70 to $79. Analysts at Goldman issued an upgrade from Neutral to Buy for the stock, in a research note that dated back to April 23.

By watching the trading activity of corporate insiders, it will become easier to get a sense of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s prospects. The earliest insider trade took place on 11/08/2018. Perlmutter Roger M parted with a total of 225.44 thousand shares of company at average share price of $75.27. The total for the sales was set at $16.97 million. After this transaction, the Exe V-P & Pres, MRL account balance stood at 141.56 thousand shares. The stock grew 5.25 percent since that insider sale. On 11/07/2018, Gerberding Julie L., EVP Strat Comm, Gl Pub Policy, sold 36.22 thousand shares at a price per share of $75.14. This removed 2.72 million shares from the insider’s fortune and the stock saw a 5.43 percent rally in value since the news became public. This transaction left 46.26 thousand shares in the EVP Strat Comm, Gl Pub Policy account. On 11/01/2018, EVP & Pres-Global Human Health Schechter Adam H performed a sale transaction worth $20.51 million. This sale at $73.81 each has eliminated 277.88 thousand shares from the insider’s portfolio position. Meanwhile, shares have recorded 7.33 percent increase since the transaction was reported. The insider now is left with 55.41 thousand shares remaining in the account. Watson Ashley, who performs the SVP Chief Ethics & Com Officer job, sold 47.04 thousand shares for $3.5 million. The disposal occurred on 10/31/2018 was priced at $74.33 per share. The share price soared 6.58 percent since the reporting date. Watson Ashley now left with a stake of 9.96 thousand MRK stock worth $779.13 thousand after the insider selling.

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) is expected to jump by 1.16 percent over the next 12 months, according to price target estimates compiled by finviz. Meanwhile, they have set a $95-month high price target. This represents a whopping 21.47 percent increase from where shares are trading today. The 12-month median price target assigned by the analysts stands at $79.5, which represents a return potential of 1.65 percent when compared to the closing price of the stock of $78.21 on Tuesday, December 04. The lowest price target for the stock is $70 — slightly more than -10.5 percent from MRK’s current share price.

The shares are currently floating around the first support level of $77.48. Below this, the next support is placed in the zone of $76.74. Till the time, the MRK stock trades above this level, bulls have nothing to fear. On momentum oscillators front, ‘RSI’ has touched 64.73 on daily chart, which may remain a cause for concern. If the price breaks below $76.74 level on closing basis, then we may see more profit booking and the stock may show further weakness. On the flipside, hitting the $79.57 mark may result into a pull-back move towards $80.92 level.

MRK shares dropped -1.01 points or -1.27 percent on Tuesday to $78.21 with a heavy trade volume of 14.58 million shares. After opening the session at $79.3, the shares went as high as $80.19 and as low as $78.1, the range within which the stock’s price traded throughout the day. The firm is left with a market cap of $208 billion and now has 2.66 billion shares outstanding. Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) stock has gained 8.22 percent of market value in 21 trading days.

MRK stock has a trailing 3-year beta of 0.72, offering the possibility of a lower rate of return, but also posing less risk. The portion of a company’s profit allocated to each outstanding share of common stock was $2.21 a share in the trailing twelve months. The stock’s value has surged 38.99 percent year to date (YTD) against a rise of 39.11 percent in 12 month’s time. The company’s shares still trade -1.72 percent away from its 1-year high of $79.57 and 48.04 percent up from 52-week low of $52.83. The average consensus rating on the company is 1.8, on a scale where 5 equates to a unanimous sell rating. In short, the mean analyst recommendations are calling this stock a buy.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) are trading at a P/E ratio of 35.16 times earnings reported for the past 12 months. The industry MRK operates in has an average P/E of 31.13. Its P/E ratio went as low as 13.95X and as high as 41.85 over the 5-year span. Further, it is sporting a 4.99 on the Price-to-Sales ratio. Compare this with the industry average P/S of 4. 67.4 percent is the gross profit margin for Merck & Co., Inc. and operating margin sits at 17.8 percent. Along with this, the net profit margin is 8 percent.

MRK will be showing off its Q4 earnings on February 01. Analysts are forecasting revenue to climb 5.6 percent to $11B in the next fiscal quarter, while earnings are seen soaring by nearly 7.14 percent to $1.05 per share. History has shown that shares in Merck & Co., Inc. have gone down on 18 different earnings reaction days and are predicted to add 0.01 percent when the company reports upcoming earnings. In last reported earnings results, it earned $1.19 per share, better than the $1.14, adjusted, expected by Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Revenue was $10.8B, worse than the $10.9B analysts expected. Earnings are estimated to increase by 29.2 percent this year, 8.48 percent next year and continue to increase by 9.54 percent annually for the next 5 years.