Zacks Investment Research Upgrades AstraZeneca (AZN) 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 report released on Tuesday. They currently have $44.00 price objective on the stock.

According to Zacks, “AstraZeneca’s core products like Nexium, Crestor and Seroquel are facing generic competition, which is hurting sales growth. The diabetes franchise also faces stiff competition while pricing pressure is hurting sales in the Respiratory franchise. Nonetheless, AstraZeneca’s newer drugs like Lynparza, Tagrisso and Brilinta should keep contributing to the top line while several launches are underway across each of the therapeutic areas, Oncology, CV metabolism and Respiratory. Meanwhile, cost-cutting initiatives should drive the bottom line. AstraZeneca also has a promising late-stage pipeline that includes immuno-oncology candidates. Imfinzi is a key drug in the pipeline. AstraZeneca’s shares have outperformed the industry this year. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters. Estimates have remained stable ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. “

AZN has been the topic of a number of other reports. Guggenheim assumed coverage on AstraZeneca in a research note on Monday, October 8th. They issued a buy rating on the stock. Jefferies Financial Group cut AstraZeneca from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, August 16th. ValuEngine upgraded AstraZeneca from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, September 27th. Finally, Morningstar restated a hold rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Tuesday, June 12th. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. AstraZeneca currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $39.78.

Shares of AstraZeneca stock opened at $37.15 on Tuesday. AstraZeneca has a 52-week low of $31.99 and a 52-week high of $40.16. The stock has a market capitalization of $100.23 billion, a P/E ratio of 8.68, a PEG ratio of 2.10 and a beta of 0.58. The company has a current ratio of 0.72, a quick ratio of 0.54 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.08.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 26th. The company reported $0.69 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.31 by $0.38. AstraZeneca had a return on equity of 29.89% and a net margin of 11.98%. The business had revenue of $5.16 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.09 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.87 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, sell-side analysts forecast that AstraZeneca will post 1.68 EPS for the current year.

In related news, major shareholder Plc Astrazeneca purchased 246,666 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, September 28th. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $15.00 per share, for a total transaction of $3,699,990.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in AZN. Jennison Associates LLC bought a new stake in shares of AstraZeneca during the second quarter valued at about $676,716,000. FMR LLC increased its position in shares of AstraZeneca by 35.2% during the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 20,243,181 shares of the company’s stock valued at $710,738,000 after buying an additional 5,272,590 shares during the period. Point72 Asset Management L.P. increased its position in shares of AstraZeneca by 214.0% during the first quarter. Point72 Asset Management L.P. now owns 2,905,535 shares of the company’s stock valued at $101,607,000 after buying an additional 1,980,335 shares during the period. Northern Trust Corp increased its position in shares of AstraZeneca by 45.2% during the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 3,467,814 shares of the company’s stock valued at $121,755,000 after buying an additional 1,079,790 shares during the period. Finally, Sei Investments Co. increased its position in shares of AstraZeneca by 293.5% during the second quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 1,317,972 shares of the company’s stock valued at $46,274,000 after buying an additional 983,055 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 15.97% of the company’s stock.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca PLC discovers, develops, and commercializes prescription medicines for the treatment of oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neuroscience, and infection diseases 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, Crestor2, Plendil, Seloken/Toprol-XL4, Tenormin5, and Zestril6 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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