Quest Diagnostics (DGX) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “Quest Diagnostics has underperformed its industry in the past six months. After a disappointing third quarter performance, we are concerned about factors like unfavorable changes in prescription drug monitoring, vitamin D testing and hepatitis C testing marketplace that can dent growth going forward. Also, in the last-reported quarter, a rise in patient concession impacted the top line, resulting in a decline in revenue per requisition. Tough competition and reimbursement issues are other concerns. On a brighter note, Quest Diagnostics is currently refocusing on diagnostic information services business and disciplined capital deployment. The company’s’ acquisitions and collaborations with hospitals and integrated delivery networks (the latest being Provant Health) continue to act as major growth drivers. We are upbeat about the company entering into a strategic partnership agreement with UnitedHealthcare.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently weighed in on the company. William Blair reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a report on Tuesday, October 23rd. Argus set a $120.00 price target on Quest Diagnostics and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Friday, September 14th. Barclays lowered their target price on Quest Diagnostics from $130.00 to $125.00 and set an overweight rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 24th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered their target price on Quest Diagnostics from $114.00 to $107.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 24th. Finally, Bank of America began coverage on Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Friday, October 19th. They issued a buy rating for the company. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $105.81.

DGX stock opened at $84.73 on Monday. Quest Diagnostics has a fifty-two week low of $78.95 and a fifty-two week high of $116.49. The firm has a market cap of $11.49 billion, a P/E ratio of 13.34, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.74 and a beta of 0.90. The company has a quick ratio of 1.09, a current ratio of 1.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.63.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The medical research company reported $1.68 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.68. Quest Diagnostics had a return on equity of 15.71% and a net margin of 11.30%. The firm had revenue of $1.89 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.95 billion. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.38 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 1.8% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, equities research analysts expect that Quest Diagnostics will post 6.33 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, January 30th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, January 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.53 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, January 14th. This is a positive change from Quest Diagnostics’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.50. This represents a $2.12 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.50%. Quest Diagnostics’s payout ratio is currently 37.04%.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of DGX. Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft FI lifted its holdings in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 48.4% in the second quarter. Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft FI now owns 4,309 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $474,000 after purchasing an additional 1,405 shares in the last quarter. Stephens Inc. AR bought a new stake in shares of Quest Diagnostics in the second quarter valued at about $266,000. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 119.3% in the second quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 8,120 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $892,000 after purchasing an additional 4,417 shares in the last quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec lifted its holdings in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 292.4% in the second quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec now owns 49,600 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $5,453,000 after purchasing an additional 36,959 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Rampart Investment Management Company LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 140.4% in the second quarter. Rampart Investment Management Company LLC now owns 8,949 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $984,000 after purchasing an additional 5,226 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 85.45% of the company’s stock.

Quest Diagnostics Company Profile

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated provides diagnostic testing information and services in the United States and internationally. The company's Diagnostic Information Services business segment develops and delivers diagnostic testing information and services, such as routine testing, non-routine and advanced clinical testing, gene-based and esoteric testing, anatomic pathology, and other diagnostic information services.

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