A study of analyst recommendations at the major brokerages shows that Merck & Co., Inc ( MRK) is the #24 broker pick, on average, out of the 30 stocks making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to ETF Channel. Within the broader S&P 500, when components were ranked in terms of analyst favorites, MRK claims the #342 spot.In forming this rank, the analyst opinions from the major brokerage houses were tallied, and averaged; then, the underlying components were ranked according to those averages. Investors often interpret analyst opinions from different angles — when companies have a low rank among analysts, it isn't necessarily the case that investors should conclude that the stock will perform poorly. It can, of course, but a bullish investor could also take the contrarian angle and read into the data that there is lots of room for upside because the stock is so out of favor. For these reasons, we at ETF Channel find value to putting together these rankings, because both the top and the bottom ends of the list can often make for some interesting stock picking ideas for further research. Below is a chart of rank over time:
According to the ETF Finder at ETF Channel, MRK makes up 8.84% of the iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (IHE) which is trading relatively unchanged on the day Friday.MRK operates in the Drugs & Pharmaceuticals sector, among companies like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) which is off about 0.5% today, and Pfizer Inc (PFE) trading lower by about 0.9%. Below is a three month price history chart comparing the stock performance of MRK, versus JNJ and PFE. MRK is currently trading up about 0.3% midday Friday.