Dow Today: Merck (MRK) Higher

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.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) is trading up 24 points (+0.2%) at 14,421 as of Monday, Mar 11, 2013, 12:35 p.m. ET. During this time, 215.1 million shares of the 30 Dow components have changed hands vs. an average daily trading volume of 619.1 million. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,375 issues advancing vs. 1,531 declining with 142 unchanged.
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The Dow component leading the way higher looks to be Merck (NYSE: MRK), which is sporting a 40-cent gain (+0.9%) bringing the stock to $43.37. This single gain is lifting the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 3.03 points or roughly accounting for 12.6% of the Dow's overall gain. Volume for Merck currently sits at 7.1 million shares traded vs. an average daily trading volume of 15.1 million shares.

Merck has a market cap of $130.78 billion and is part of the health care sector and drugs industry. Shares are up 5% year to date as of Friday's close. The stock's dividend yield sits at 4%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. The company has a P/E ratio of 21.6, 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 largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins, notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

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