Merck Stock Earns Another Bull Note

Mizuho believes Keytruda's strength can keep pushing Merck shares higher

Jul 3, 2019 at 10:35 AM
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The shares of Merck & Co, Inc. (NYSE:MRK) have had a huge year, riding the tailwinds from the company's blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda. The drug is one reason another analyst is saying the stock is a buy, with Mizuho beginning coverage with a "buy" rating and Street-high $97 price target. The brokerage note suggested Keytruda should help drive margin expansion for MRK.

Nine of the 11 covering brokerage firms already had "buy" or "strong buy" recommendations on the Dow component, and some of these analysts have given the security a top pick designation. The shares are quickly approaching their average 12-month price target of $90.66, though, meaning more analysts could be compelled to release bull notes in the near future.

Looking closer at the charts, MRK stock was last seen trading at $86.23, putting its year-over-year return at roughly 41%. The shares found strong support at their 200-day moving average back in April, and hit an 18-year high of $86.84 this morning. For those interested in speculating on Merck, the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 14% ranks in the low 8th annual percentile, pointing to low volatility expectations at the moment.

Some traders are apparently taking advantage of these attractive premiums, with puts crossing at an accelerated rate this morning. Most popular is the July 85.50 put, where buy-to-open activity seems to be taking place.

Elsewhere in the pharma space, there was also some analyst attention on Abbvie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) and Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) after the companies announcement of a buyout deal last month. For ABBV, Evercore ISI cut its price target to $93 from $110, though this still represents a big premium from the shares' current price of $74.33. The equity gapped lower following the M&A news, bottoming at $65.06 the same day, but it's notched five straight wins since. As for AGN, SunTrust Robinson upped its price target to $185 from $170. The shares have kept grinding higher since the buyout news hit, last seen trading at $169.68.




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