Dow Today: Merck (MRK) Lower

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading up 73 points (+0.6%) at 12,832 as of Wednesday, Mar 7, 2012, 11:35 a.m. ET. During this time, 251 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 2,261 issues advancing vs. 625 declining with 114 unchanged.

Holding back the Dow today is Merck (NYSE: MRK), which is lagging the broader Dow index with a 19-cent decline (-0.5%) bringing the stock to $37.25. Volume for Merck currently sits at 7.2 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 down 0.7% year to date as of Tuesday'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 19, 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, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

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