Well, at least this time, the Banc of Amercia analysts are updating their call well ahead of the Q3 2012 quarterly results -- but thereby suggesting only that Merck's solid NYSE share price increase in 2012 has now removed almost all the "undervaule" from Merck's shares -- now at $43 and change. Fully-valued is $45 here, according to B of A/Merrill Lynch. To be fair, there are still several large houses holding a $50 target on Merck though.
Here's a bit (do go read it all) from Benzinga's note:
. . . .Banc of America Merrill Lynch noted "With Merck shares up 14% this year, and with only modest upside potential to our $45 price objective, we are moving to Neutral. As we have been since our March 2011 launch, we remain more bullish than our peers on Major Pharma with 3 Buys and 1 Neutral. . . Our move to Neutral on Merck is not at all a 'sell' call, as we remain constructive on management's strategy and track record. . . ."
I think that is about right -- but should MRL's CETP research projects (CV franchises) turn up very strong results, Merck would be undervalued in my opinion, even at $50. But that is a longer term -- 2013 and beyond -- prospect.