Dow Today: Merck (MRK) Higher

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading up 26 points (+0.2%) at 12,930 as of Friday, Feb 17, 2012, 11:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 438.1 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 818.6 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,658 issues advancing vs. 1,214 declining with 145 unchanged.

The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Merck (NYSE: MRK), which is sporting a 72-cent gain (+1.9%) bringing the stock to $38.86. This single gain is lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 5.45 points or roughly accounting for 21% of the Dow's overall gain. Volume for Merck currently sits at 10 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 16.2 million shares.

Merck has a market cap of $118.2 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 1.2% year to date as of Thursday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 4.4%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.8, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 28.1 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook.
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