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

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.

Merck ( MRK) pushed the Drugs industry lower today making it today's featured Drugs laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day down 2.1%. By the end of trading, Merck fell $0.93 (-1.7%) to $54.66 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 22,260,299 shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 12,133,300 shares. The stock ranged in price between $54.62-$56.60 after having opened the day at $56.39 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $55.59. Other companies within the Drugs industry that declined today were: China Pharma ( CPHI), down 31.6%, Arrowhead Research Corporation ( ARWR), down 13.1%, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals ( DRNA), down 11.3% and 22nd Century Group ( XXII), down 11.3%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. Merck has a market cap of $164.6 billion and is part of the health care sector. Shares are up 11.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate Merck a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

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, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the positive front, Endocyte ( ECYT), up 92.4%, Aastrom Biosciences ( ASTM), up 30.6%, Palatin Technologies ( PTN), up 17.1% and Enzon Pharmaceuticals ( ENZN), up 16.7% , were all gainers within the drugs industry with Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) being today's featured drugs industry leader.

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).

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12-months. Learn more.

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