Astrazeneca PLC (AZN) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $33.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price would indicate a potential upside of 11.34% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “AstraZeneca’s Q4 results were mixed with earnings beating estimates but sales missing the same. The company has been very active on the acquisition and partnering front and expects to continue pursuing accretive deals. Newly launched drugs should keep contributing to the top line and ease the impact of genericization. Meanwhile, cost-cutting initiatives should drive the bottom line. Streamlining operations, along with its focus on R&D, will benefit the company in the long run. AstraZeneca has a promising late-stage pipeline that includes immuno-oncology candidates. The company expects a lot of activity on the regulatory and pipeline front in 2017.  Although the stock’s decline was sharper than the large cap pharma industry in 2016, it has done well in 2017. However, core products like Nexium and Crestor are facing generic competition which can hurt near-term earnings growth. The diabetes franchise also faces stiff competition.”

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on AZN. Cantor Fitzgerald reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Friday, October 28th. Deutsche Bank AG reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Friday, October 28th. J P Morgan Chase & Co reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Wednesday, November 2nd. Citigroup Inc. reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Monday, November 7th. Finally, Shore Capital reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Thursday, November 10th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $34.20.

Analyst Recommendations for Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN)

Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) opened at 29.64 on Tuesday. The company has a market capitalization of $74.99 billion, a PE ratio of 21.48 and a beta of 0.77. Astrazeneca PLC has a 12-month low of $25.55 and a 12-month high of $35.04. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $27.95 and its 200-day moving average price is $30.00.

Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The company reported $1.21 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.59 by $0.62. Astrazeneca PLC had a return on equity of 34.30% and a net margin of 15.21%. The business had revenue of $5.59 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.43 billion. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.94 EPS. The business’s revenue was down 12.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Astrazeneca PLC will post $1.82 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a semiannual dividend, which will be paid on Monday, March 20th. Stockholders of record on Friday, February 17th will be given a dividend of $0.95 per share. This represents a dividend yield of 6.81%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, February 15th. Astrazeneca PLC’s dividend payout ratio is currently 49.64%.

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Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of AZN. Pacad Investment Ltd. bought a new stake in Astrazeneca PLC during the fourth quarter worth $115,000. Acrospire Investment Management LLC raised its stake in Astrazeneca PLC by 1,078.4% in the third quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 3,606 shares of the company’s stock worth $118,000 after buying an additional 3,300 shares in the last quarter. Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in Astrazeneca PLC during the fourth quarter worth $129,000. Asset Planning Services Ltd. raised its stake in Astrazeneca PLC by 628.6% in the fourth quarter. Asset Planning Services Ltd. now owns 5,100 shares of the company’s stock worth $139,000 after buying an additional 4,400 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Yorktown Management & Research Co Inc bought a new stake in Astrazeneca PLC during the third quarter worth $210,000. 12.90% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Astrazeneca PLC Company Profile

AstraZeneca PLC (AstraZeneca) is a biopharmaceutical company. The Company focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in various therapy areas, including respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune disease (RIA), cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CVMD) and oncology, as well as in infection, neuroscience and gastrointestinal areas.

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