Merck

(

MRK

) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 1.7%. By the end of trading, Merck rose 22 cents (0.6%) to $36.47 on average volume. Throughout the day, 15.1 million shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 17.7 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $36.34-$36.80 after having opened the day at $36.40 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $36.25. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were:

K-V Pharmaceutical Company

(

KV.B

), up 18%,

Ampio Pharmaceuticals

(

AMPE

), up 16.4%,

DARA Biosciences

(

DARA

), up 8.7%, and

Bacterin International Holdings

(

BONE

), up 7.6%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. Merck has a market cap of $110.82 billion and is part of the

health care

sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 26.5, above the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 26.3 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 0.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate Merck a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

On the negative front,

China Shenghuo Pharmaceutical Holdings

(

KUN

), down 17.4%,

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals

(

SOMX

), down 16.7%,

Telik

(

TELK

), down 16%, and

Biosante Pharmaceuticals

(

BPAX

), down 14.8%, were all losers within the drugs industry with

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

(

TEVA

) being today's drugs industry loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the drugs industry could consider

SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF

(

XPH

) while those bearish on the drugs industry could consider

ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech

(

BIS

).

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