Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is rated as Buy by analysts at Citigroup. The firm was pushed by the stock performance to change their PT view from $70 to $79 on October 16. Analysts at Guggenheim, started covering the stock on October 09 with a Buy rating. The stock won favor of Goldman analysts who expressed their confidence in it using an upgrade from Neutral to Buy on April 23.

Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) hit an intraday high Friday at $74.94. The shares finished at $74.9, after trading as low as $74.15 earlier in the session. It rose 0.56% in recent trade and currently has a stock-market value of $199.38B. Trading activity significantly weakened as the volume at ready counter decreased to 9,410,685 shares versus 14,773,905 in average daily trading volume over the past 20 days. So far this year, the volume has averaged about 13,406,938 shares. The stock is now 41.78% above against its bear-market low of $52.83 on April 03, 2018. It has retreated -7.06% since it’s 52-week high of $80.19 reached in December. Now the market price is up 30.72% on the year and down -1.98% YTD.

MRK’s 50 day simple moving average (SMA 50) price is $75.39 and its 200-day simple moving average (SMA 200) price is $66.81. The company’s stock currently has a total float of 2.6B shares. Its weekly volatility is hovering around 1.6% and felt 2.32% volatility in price over a month. On the upside, the share price will test short term resistance at around $75.18. On a downside, the stock is likely to find some support, which begins at $74.39. The failure to get near-term support could push it to $73.87.

Separately, it has been reported that multiple insider activity took place at Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK). Exe V-P & Pres, MRL Perlmutter Roger M sold 225,443 shares for $141,555 in transaction occurred on 2018/11/08. After making this transaction, the Exe V-P & Pres, MRL owns a direct stake of 16,969,095 shares, worth $10,602,470, as per the last closing price. On 2018/11/07 Gerberding Julie L., EVP Strat Comm, Gl Pub Policy at MRK, dumped 36,218 shares at an average price of $75.14 per share. The selling total is valued at $3,465,099.

EVP & Pres-Global Human Health, Schechter Adam H had divested 277,879 shares for $55,406 through a trade on 2018/11/01. Following this activity, the insider holds 20,510,249 shares worth $4,149,909 as of recent close. Wall Street’s most bullish Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) analysts are predicting the share price to blow past $95 per share during the next 12 months. The current median share price forecast by them is $81, suggesting that the stock could increase 8.14% in that time frame. The average price target of $82.32 calls for a nearly 9.91% increase in the stock price.

When looking at valuations, Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) has a pricey P/E of 33.97x as compared to industry average of 29.45x. Moreover, it trades for 15.91 times the next 12 months of expected earnings. Also, it is trading at rather expensive levels at just over 6.15x price/book and 4.78x price/sales. Compared to others, Merck & Co., Inc. is in a different league with regards to profitability, having net margins of 8%. To put some perspective around this, the industry’s average net margin is 5.44%. MRK’s ROE is 10.1%, which is also considerably worse than the industry’s ROE of 15.85%. It’s also very liquid in the near term, with a current ratio of 1.4. The stock has a debt/capital of 0.73.

Shares of Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) have gained 6.2% since the company’s Mar-19 earnings report. Over the past 12 fiscal quarters, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has topped consensus earnings estimates in 12 quarters (100%), missed earnings in 0 quarters (0%), whereas at 0 occasion EPS met analyst expectations. MRK last reported earnings on October 25, 2018 when it released Sep-18 results that exceeded expectations. The company raked in $1.19 per share, -72.64% change on the same period last year. That was better than consensus for $1.14. Revenue for the recent quarter stood at $10.79 billion, up 5% on last year and below the $10.88 billion predicted by analysts. For this quarter, Wall Street analysts forecast revenue in a range of $10.24 billion to $10.69 billion, which should be compared with $9.9 billion generated last year. EPS is seen in a range of $1.12 to $1.18, against the $1.03 reported a year ago.