Merck & Co Inc (MRK): Today's Featured Drugs Winner

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

Merck ( MRK) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.2%. By the end of trading, Merck rose 46 cents (1.1%) to $43.46 on average volume. Throughout the day, 12.3 million shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 12.7 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $42.72-$43.46 after having opened the day at $43.12 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $43. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were: Sarepta Therapeutics ( SRPT), up 14.4%, DARA Biosciences ( DARA), up 9.3%, Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals ( CYCC), up 9.1%, and Apricus Biosciences ( APRI), up 9%.
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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 $130.18 billion and is part of the health care sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.5, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 5.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 11 analysts that rate Merck a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and six rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

On the negative front, TrovaGene ( TROV), down 13.2%, Anthera Pharmaceuticals ( ANTH), down 10.5%, MEI Pharma ( MEIP), down 8.3%, and Arrowhead Research Corporation ( ARWR), down 7%, were all laggards within the drugs industry with Vivus ( VVUS) being today's drugs industry laggard.

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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