Quest Diagnostics (DGX) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

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

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.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. Bank of America started coverage on Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Friday, October 19th. They set a buy rating on the stock. Argus set a $106.00 price target on Quest Diagnostics and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 24th. Canaccord Genuity lowered their price target on Quest Diagnostics from $118.00 to $105.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, October 24th. Mizuho set a $108.00 price target on Quest Diagnostics and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, November 20th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group reissued a buy rating and set a $121.00 price target on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Sunday, December 2nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and ten have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $105.81.

NYSE:DGX opened at $84.73 on Monday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.63, a quick ratio of 1.09 and a current ratio of 1.15. The stock has a market capitalization of $11.49 billion, a P/E ratio of 13.34, a P/E/G ratio of 1.74 and a beta of 0.90. Quest Diagnostics has a 52-week low of $78.95 and a 52-week high of $116.49.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The medical research company reported $1.68 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.68. The firm had revenue of $1.89 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.95 billion. Quest Diagnostics had a return on equity of 15.71% and a net margin of 11.30%. The business’s revenue was up 1.8% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.38 earnings per share. On average, analysts anticipate that Quest Diagnostics will post 6.33 earnings per share for the current year.

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

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of DGX. Acropolis Investment Management LLC lifted its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 7.2% during the fourth quarter. Acropolis Investment Management LLC now owns 4,530 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $377,000 after purchasing an additional 305 shares during the last quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue lifted its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 8.7% during the fourth quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue now owns 221,820 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $18,469,000 after purchasing an additional 17,811 shares during the last quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama lifted its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 93.0% during the fourth quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama now owns 121,664 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $10,131,000 after purchasing an additional 58,639 shares during the last quarter. USS Investment Management Ltd lifted its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 3.0% during the fourth quarter. USS Investment Management Ltd now owns 103,300 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $8,603,000 after purchasing an additional 3,000 shares during the last quarter. Finally, CENTRAL TRUST Co lifted its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 13.6% during the fourth quarter. CENTRAL TRUST Co now owns 2,499 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $208,000 after purchasing an additional 300 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 85.45% of the company’s stock.

About Quest Diagnostics

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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