Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Shares Down Amid Anticipation of FDA Approval of Hepatitis C Cure

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While shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) traded down today, there is reason for hope within the company, thanks to the FDA’s expected date of approval for their hepatitis C medication, elbasvir/grazoprevir, on January 28.

Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) had long been the leaders of the hepatitis C drug market until competition caught up and released better drugs with less side effects. That could change though on January 28th. If approved by the FDA, like CEO Kenneth Frazier believes, they could once again be a player in a very lucrative market for hepatitis C cures which costs $80,000 per treatment course.

This alone could increase revenue for Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) considerably.The stock is down 1.69% or $0.9 following the news, hitting $52.25 per share. Approximately 8.42M shares traded hands. MRK shares have declined 11.77% since June 2, 2015 and are currently downtrending. It has underperformed the S&P500 by 7.08%.

From a total of 8 analysts covering Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) stock, 6 rate it a “Buy”, 0 a “Sell”, and 2 a “Hold”. This means that 75% of the ratings are positive. The highest target price is $70 while the lowest target price is $55. The mean of all analyst targets is $64.50 which is 23.44% above today’s ($52.25) stock price. Merck & Co. Inc. was the topic of 12 analyst reports since August 13, 2015 according to the firm StockzIntelligence Inc. Barclays Capital upgraded shares on December 1 to a “Overweight” rating. BMO Capital Markets upgraded shares to a”Outperform” rating and a $70 target share price in their report from an August 13. Argus Research maintained MRK stock in a recent report from November 17 with a “Buy” rating. Finally, JP Morgan maintained the stock with a “Overweight” rating in a report they issued on a September 21.

The institutional sentiment increased to 1.15 in Q2 2015. It’s up 0.09, from 1.06 in 2015Q2. The ratio increased, as 100 funds sold all their Merck & Co., Inc. shares they owned while 557 reduced their positions. 76 funds bought stakes while 682 increased their total positions. Institutions now own 1.88 billion shares which is 8.70% less than the previous share count of 2.06 billion in 2015Q2.

Srb Corp holds 10.39% of its total portfolio in Merck & Co., Inc., equating to 1.53 million shares. Foundation Resource Management Inc owns 676,176 shares representing 7.18% of their total US portfolio. Moreover, Orbis Investment Management (U.S.) Llc has 6.86% of their total portfolio invested in the company, equating to 153,319 shares. The Missouri-based Alpine Investment Management Llc has a total of 6.05% of their portfolio invested in the stock. Gabalex Capital Management Llc, a New York-based fund reported 275,000 shares owned.

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global health care company. The company has a market cap of $147.38 billion. The Firm offers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, which it markets directly and through its joint ventures. It has 13.92 P/E ratio. 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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