Baxter International (BAX) Upgraded to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

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Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Baxter has outperformed the industry in a year’s time. The company continues to gain from Advanced Surgery, Renal Care and Acute Therapies units. Growth in the United States and EMEA buoys optimism. The company has received approvals for its PrisMax system, Actifuse and ALTAPORE bone graft systems. Its alliance with Mayo Clinic is another positive. Solid expansion in gross and operating margin in the last reported quarter is encouraging as well. Baxter raised the low end of its earnings per share guidance for 2018. On the flip side, Baxter’s Medication Delivery and Clinical Nutrition units have been witnessing sluggishness in recent times. A weak revenue guidance for the upcoming quarter is indicative of headwinds for Baxter ahead. Market disruptions due to Hurricane Maria continue to bother the company. Also, the recent decline in the APAC revenues is worrisome.”

BAX has been the subject of several other reports. Argus upgraded Baxter International from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $70.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Friday, November 2nd. Piper Jaffray Companies dropped their price objective on Baxter International from $83.00 to $72.00 and set an “overweight” rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, November 1st. Wells Fargo & Co increased their price objective on Baxter International from $72.00 to $76.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research note on Tuesday, December 4th. Morgan Stanley upgraded Baxter International from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and increased their price objective for the stock from $66.00 to $77.00 in a research note on Wednesday, January 2nd. Finally, Barclays initiated coverage on Baxter International in a research note on Monday, October 15th. They set an “underweight” rating and a $73.00 price objective for the company. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Baxter International presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $76.00.

BAX stock traded down $0.70 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $66.61. The stock had a trading volume of 1,232,834 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,908,844. The stock has a market cap of $35.72 billion, a P/E ratio of 26.86, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.67 and a beta of 0.96. Baxter International has a 52 week low of $61.05 and a 52 week high of $78.38. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.38, a current ratio of 2.60 and a quick ratio of 1.96.

Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, October 31st. The medical instruments supplier reported $0.80 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.74 by $0.06. The firm had revenue of $2.77 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.79 billion. Baxter International had a return on equity of 17.67% and a net margin of 10.90%. Baxter International’s quarterly revenue was up 2.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.64 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that Baxter International will post 3 EPS for the current year.

Baxter International announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback plan on Tuesday, November 13th that allows the company to repurchase $2.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the medical instruments supplier to purchase up to 6.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, insider Third Point Llc sold 8,000,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, December 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $68.62, for a total value of $548,960,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, Director Carole J. Shapazian sold 11,749 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, December 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $68.48, for a total value of $804,571.52. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 15,237 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,043,429.76. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 8,013,249 shares of company stock valued at $549,865,102. 0.07% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Bridgeworth LLC bought a new position in Baxter International during the second quarter worth about $102,000. Centaurus Financial Inc. bought a new position in Baxter International during the second quarter worth about $117,000. Point72 Hong Kong Ltd bought a new position in Baxter International during the third quarter worth about $122,000. Bell Rock Capital LLC bought a new position in Baxter International during the third quarter worth about $134,000. Finally, Baxter Bros Inc. bought a new position in Baxter International during the third quarter worth about $201,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 83.28% of the company’s stock.

Baxter International Company Profile

Baxter International Inc provides a portfolio of healthcare products. The company operates through North and South America; Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Asia-Pacific segments. It offers peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, and additional dialysis therapies and services; renal replacement therapies and other organ support therapies focused in the intensive care unit; sterile intravenous (IV) solutions, IV therapies, infusion pumps, administration sets, and drug reconstitution devices; and parenteral nutrition therapies.

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