Will This Price Target Increase Help Merck (MRK) Stock Today?

Story updated at 10 a.m.to reflect market activity.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raised its price target for Merck (MRK) to $65 Thursday.

Merck fell -0.1% to $58.44 in morning trading.

The bank reiterated its "buy" rating for the drug manufacturer. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts expect higher Hepatitis C drug sales, adding that Merck's purchase of Indentix should add to earnings.

Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks

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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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates MERCK & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MERCK & CO (MRK) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. 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, increase in stock price during the past year, growth in earnings per share and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.56, 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 1.23, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • The gross profit margin for MERCK & CO is currently very high, coming in at 89.02%. It has increased significantly from the same period last year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 16.61% trails the industry average.
  • The stock has risen over the past year as investors have generally rewarded the company for its earnings growth and other positive factors like the ones we have cited in this report. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • MERCK & CO has improved earnings per share by 9.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MERCK & CO reported lower earnings of $1.46 versus $2.00 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.46 versus $1.46).
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 5.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.8%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MRK Ratings Report

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

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.

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