Zacks Investment Research Downgrades AstraZeneca (AZN) to Hold

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Monday, Zacks.com reports.

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.”

AZN has been the topic of a number of other reports. UBS Group downgraded shares of AstraZeneca from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $40.73 price target on the stock. in a report on Tuesday, April 2nd. ValuEngine cut shares of AstraZeneca from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, April 1st. Cowen raised shares of AstraZeneca from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and lifted their price objective for the company from $42.00 to $48.00 in a report on Monday, April 1st. Main First Bank reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Tuesday, March 19th. Finally, HSBC reissued a “sell” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Thursday, February 28th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $45.46.

Shares of NYSE:AZN traded up $0.14 during midday trading on Monday, reaching $40.84. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 106,516 shares, compared to its average volume of 6,259,836. The firm has a market capitalization of $103.37 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.80, a PEG ratio of 1.19 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 debt-to-equity ratio of 1.24, a current ratio of 0.96 and a quick ratio of 0.78.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.73 by $0.85. The company had revenue of $6.42 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $6.33 billion. AstraZeneca had a net margin of 9.76% and a return on equity of 32.47%. The firm’s quarterly revenue 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. Equities analysts anticipate that AstraZeneca will post 1.79 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in AZN. Pinnacle Bank purchased a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the fourth quarter worth about $38,000. Berman Capital Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of AstraZeneca in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $38,000. Sontag Advisory LLC purchased a new position in AstraZeneca during the fourth quarter worth approximately $40,000. Portfolio Solutions LLC purchased a new position in AstraZeneca during the fourth quarter worth approximately $40,000. Finally, CNB Bank lifted its position in AstraZeneca by 245.0% during the fourth quarter. CNB Bank now owns 1,080 shares of the company’s stock worth $41,000 after buying an additional 767 shares in the last quarter. 18.31% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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