Analyst: Merck Stock Could Jump 25%

Options traders are unusually pessimistic

Deputy Editor
Oct 27, 2023 at 10:15 AM
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BMO Capital upgraded shares of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) to "outperform" from "market perform" and hiked its price target to $132.

Some patents on Merck's cancer immunotherapy Keytruda, its top-selling cancer drug, begin to expire at the end of the decade. However, the Wall Street brokerage noted the likely offset of Keytruda loss of exclusivity with buyout deals -- like its recent $5.5 billion deal with Japan-based Daiichi Sankyo -- and pipeline execution. The blue-chip pharma stock's new price target is also a 25% premium to last night's close.

The brokerage bunch is overwhelmingly optimistic on MRK, with 14 recommending a "strong buy." On the other hand, three still rate Merck stock a tepid "hold," leaving a little room for pessimism to unwind.

A shift in sentiment in the options pits could inject even more tailwinds. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 50-day put/call volume ratio stands higher than 88% of readings from the past 12 months.

Despite the bull note, Merck stock sports a was last seen 0.7% lower at $104.77. On the charts, MRK's 80-day moving average that moved in as pressure in mid-August still stands firmly as resistance. Still, year on year, the stock is up nearly 7.3%.


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