Zacks Investment Research Upgrades AstraZeneca (AZN) to “Buy”

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has a $45.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective points to a potential upside of 13.08% from the stock’s previous close.

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 have also recently commented on the company. HSBC reaffirmed a “sell” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Thursday, February 28th. BNP Paribas started coverage on AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, February 5th. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and set a $48.00 target price on shares of AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, January 15th. Exane BNP Paribas started coverage on AstraZeneca in a report on Tuesday, February 5th. They set an “outperform” rating for the company. Finally, UBS Group lowered AstraZeneca from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $40.73 target price for the company. in a report on Tuesday, April 2nd. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $45.29.

NYSE AZN traded down $0.02 during trading hours on Tuesday, hitting $39.79. 1,583,743 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 6,408,111. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.24, a current ratio of 0.96 and a quick ratio of 0.78. AstraZeneca has a 52 week low of $34.38 and a 52 week high of $43.29. The stock has a market capitalization of $101.04 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.50, a PEG ratio of 1.16 and a beta of 0.51.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.85. The company had revenue of $6.42 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.33 billion. AstraZeneca had a return on equity of 32.47% and a net margin of 9.76%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 11.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.30 earnings per share. As a group, equities research analysts anticipate that AstraZeneca will post 1.79 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. FMR LLC grew its position in AstraZeneca by 59.6% during the 4th quarter. FMR LLC now owns 56,373,971 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,141,084,000 after purchasing an additional 21,048,181 shares during the period. Jennison Associates LLC grew its position in AstraZeneca by 15.2% during the 4th quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 45,796,787 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,739,362,000 after purchasing an additional 6,052,483 shares during the period. Fisher Asset Management LLC grew its position in AstraZeneca by 10.7% during the 4th quarter. Fisher Asset Management LLC now owns 14,965,240 shares of the company’s stock worth $568,380,000 after purchasing an additional 1,448,516 shares during the period. CIBC Private Wealth Group LLC grew its position in AstraZeneca by 189.5% during the 4th quarter. CIBC Private Wealth Group LLC now owns 1,231,390 shares of the company’s stock worth $46,768,000 after purchasing an additional 805,985 shares during the period. Finally, Sphera Funds Management LTD. acquired a new stake in AstraZeneca during the 4th quarter worth about $19,560,000. 18.31% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

AstraZeneca Company Profile

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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