AstraZeneca (AZN) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $45.00 price objective 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.”

A number of other research analysts also recently commented on AZN. ValuEngine downgraded shares of AstraZeneca from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Monday, April 1st. Deutsche Bank reiterated a buy rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Tuesday, February 26th. Main First Bank reiterated a buy rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Tuesday, March 19th. Cowen upgraded shares of AstraZeneca from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and increased their price objective for the company from $42.00 to $48.00 in a research note on Monday, April 1st. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group reiterated a sell rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Tuesday, February 26th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $45.29.

AZN opened at $39.30 on Tuesday. The firm has a market cap of $100.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.36, a PEG ratio of 1.16 and a beta of 0.51. AstraZeneca has a twelve month low of $34.38 and a twelve month high of $43.29. The company has a quick ratio of 0.78, a current ratio of 0.96 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.24.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ 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 business had revenue of $6.42 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $6.33 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.30 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 11.1% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts forecast that AstraZeneca will post 1.79 earnings per share for the current year.

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

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Lake Point Wealth Management bought a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth about $195,000. Mackenzie Financial Corp lifted its position in shares of AstraZeneca by 311.8% in the 4th quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp now owns 122,231 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,642,000 after buying an additional 92,551 shares during the last quarter. Sit Investment Associates Inc. bought a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth about $171,000. Wealth Alliance Advisory Group LLC bought a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth about $216,000. Finally, Cavalier Investments LLC bought a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth about $889,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 18.31% of the company’s stock.

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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