Stock Watch: Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)

[Zacks] Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) announced positive results from a pivotal phase II study (KEYNOTE-002) on its anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab). Merck is comparing Keytruda to chemotherapy in advanced melanoma patients refractory to Bristol-Myers Squibb Company’s (BMY) Yervoy (ipilimumab). Keytruda achieved the primary endpoint of progression free survival (PFS) in the study. The global, randomized, pivotal phase II study (n=540) evaluated the superiority of either dose of Keytruda (2mg/kg and 10mg/kg every three weeks) over chemotherapy in Yervoy-refractory advanced melanoma patients.

Results demonstrated that at six months, the PFS rates for Keytruda were 34% at the 2 mg/kg dose and 38% at the 10 mg/kg dose compared to 16% for chemotherapy. The data from the study was presented at the Society of Melanoma Research 2014 International Congress. In addition, overall response rates were found to be 21% at 2 mg/kg dose and 25% at 10 mg/kg dose in comparison to 4% for chemotherapy. The company intends to present the data on overall survival at a future congress.

Taking a look at the company’s recent performance, Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) reported Third quarter earnings for fiscal 2014 on October 27th.  The company reported actual earnings per share of $0.90 against the consensus Street estimate of $0.88. Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) posted revenue of $10.56 billion against estimates of $10.66 billion.

There are currently sixteen analysts that we track that cover the stock.  Of those sixteen, seven have a Buy rating and nine have a Hold rating. On a consensus basis this yields a score of 2.44 and a Hold.  The combined price objective of these covering analysts is $62.29, which represents a 7.50% upside difference to the last closing price.

A recent analyst activity consisted of Zacks Reiterating their neutral stance on the company.  Zacks has a price target of $59.00 which represents an upside of 2.95% from the last closing price.  On the date of the report, the stock closed at $55.85.

Another research firm weighing in recently was Jefferies Group who also Reiterated their rating on the stock.  On October 13th Jefferies Group upgraded their price target on the stock from $62.00 to $60.00, or a 4.69% upside to the current price.  On the day of the report, MRK shares closed at $56.14.

Merck & Co., Inc.(NYSE:MRK) provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. The company’s Pharmaceutical segment offers human health pharmaceutical products, such as therapeutic and preventive agents for the treatment of human disorders in the areas of cardiovascular, diabetes and obesity, respiratory, women’s health and endocrine, inflammatory and infectious diseases, oncology, ophthalmology, immunology, infectious diseases, and others. This segment also provides vaccines, including preventive pediatric, adolescent, and adult vaccines. Its Animal Health segment discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets animal health products comprising vaccines, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs for respiratory diseases, as well as products for the treatment of fertility disorders.

Stock Watch: Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) was last modified: November 19th, 2014 by Seth Talluto

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