Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link. NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Merck (NYSE: MRK) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of B+. 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 and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.
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- The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.59, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.41, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
- The gross profit margin for MERCK & CO is currently very high, coming in at 79.48%. Regardless of MRK's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, MRK's net profit margin of 8.22% is significantly lower than the industry average.
- MERCK & CO's earnings per share declined by 48.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MERCK & CO reported lower earnings of $2.00 versus $2.03 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.48 versus $2.00).
- MRK, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 4.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 10.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
- Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. The stock's price rise over the last year has driven it to a level which is somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
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