AstraZeneca (AZN) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

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Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. They currently have $45.00 target price on the stock.

According to Zacks, “AstraZeneca’s core drugs like Nexium, Crestor and Seroquel are facing generic competition, which is hurting sales. The diabetes unit also faces stiff competition while pricing pressure is hurting sales in the Respiratory unit. Nonetheless, AstraZeneca returned to product sales growth in the second half of 2018 on the back of its newer drugs and looks confident of seeing sustained growth for several years. Newer drugs like Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi should keep contributing to sales. Meanwhile, several launches are underway across each of the therapeutic areas – Oncology, CV metabolism and Respiratory. AstraZeneca also has a promising late-stage pipeline that includes immuno-oncology candidates. AstraZeneca’s shares have outperformed the industry this year so far. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters. Estimates have gone down slightly ahead of the company’s Q1 earnings release.”

Several other analysts also recently issued reports on AZN. ValuEngine downgraded shares of AstraZeneca from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Tuesday, January 15th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $48.00 price target on shares of AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, January 15th. BNP Paribas started coverage on shares of AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, February 5th. They issued an outperform rating on the stock. Exane BNP Paribas started coverage on shares of AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, February 5th. They issued an outperform rating on the stock. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group reaffirmed a sell rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, February 26th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $45.29.

Shares of NYSE AZN opened at $39.30 on Tuesday. AstraZeneca has a 12-month low of $34.38 and a 12-month high of $43.29. The stock has a market capitalization of $100.83 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.36, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.16 and a beta of 0.51. The company has a current ratio of 0.96, a quick ratio of 0.78 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.24.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.85. AstraZeneca had a net margin of 9.76% and a return on equity of 32.47%. The company had revenue of $6.42 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.33 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.30 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 11.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that AstraZeneca will post 1.79 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a semiannual dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, March 27th. Investors of record on Friday, March 1st were paid a dividend of $0.95 per share. This is an increase from AstraZeneca’s previous semiannual dividend of $0.45. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 28th. This represents a dividend yield of 4.64%. AstraZeneca’s dividend payout ratio is presently 53.76%.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in AZN. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its stake in shares of AstraZeneca by 5.9% during the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 188,336 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,452,000 after buying an additional 10,560 shares during the period. Credit Suisse AG increased its position in AstraZeneca by 73.9% during the third quarter. Credit Suisse AG now owns 18,873 shares of the company’s stock worth $746,000 after purchasing an additional 8,023 shares during the last quarter. Panagora Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in AstraZeneca during the third quarter worth approximately $546,000. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC increased its position in AstraZeneca by 1,398.8% during the third quarter. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC now owns 6,355 shares of the company’s stock worth $251,000 after purchasing an additional 5,931 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Jane Street Group LLC increased its position in AstraZeneca by 278.6% during the third quarter. Jane Street Group LLC now owns 16,490 shares of the company’s stock worth $653,000 after purchasing an additional 12,135 shares during the last quarter. 18.31% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca PLC discovers, develops, and commercializes prescription medicines in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, respiratory, autoimmunity, infection, neuroscience, and gastroenterology worldwide. Its marketed products include Arimidex, Casodex/Cosudex, Calquence, Faslodex, Imfinzi, Iressa, Lynparza, Nolvadex, Tagrisso, and Zoladex for oncology diseases; Atacand1/Atacand HCT/Atacand Plus, Brilinta/Brilique, Crestor, Plendil, Seloken/Toprol-XL, Tenormin, and Zestril for cardiovascular diseases; and Bydureon, Byetta, Farxiga/Forxiga, Kombiglyze XR, Komboglyze, Onglyza, Qtern, Symlin, Xigduo, and Xigduo XR for metabolic diseases.

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