Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of ABAXIS, Inc. (NASDAQ:ABAX) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Abaxis exited the second quarter of fiscal 2018 on a disappointing with revenues lagging the Zacks Consensus Estimate. We are also concerned about the rising operating expenses and a weak operating margin scenario of late. Challenges like competitive bidding continue to hurt the stock. This apart, valuation remains stretched. Overall, in the last three months, Abaxis has been trading below the broader industry. However, a year-over-year increase in revenues buoys optimism. We are looking forward to improved consumable revenues that boosted veterinary sales performance at Abaxis in the quarter. Meanwhile, the company is initiating new sales and marketing strategies. In this regard, recently in September, Abaxis started shipping VetScan UA, urine chemistry analyzer. Abaxis plans additional product launches in fiscal 2018, including the VetScan FUSE connectivity system.”

A number of other research analysts have also commented on ABAX. Bank of America Corporation reissued an underperform rating and set a $42.00 price objective on shares of ABAXIS in a report on Wednesday, August 23rd. BidaskClub lowered ABAXIS from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. Stifel Nicolaus reissued a hold rating and set a $48.00 price objective on shares of ABAXIS in a report on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Canaccord Genuity reissued a hold rating and set a $47.00 price objective (up previously from $46.00) on shares of ABAXIS in a report on Friday, October 27th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. ABAXIS currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $47.63.

Shares of ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX) traded up $0.33 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $46.46. The stock had a trading volume of 146,900 shares, compared to its average volume of 117,825. The firm has a market cap of $1,054.50, a price-to-earnings ratio of 38.72 and a beta of 0.86. ABAXIS has a fifty-two week low of $43.66 and a fifty-two week high of $55.95.

ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 24th. The medical research company reported $0.29 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.27 by $0.02. The business had revenue of $58.90 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $60.85 million. ABAXIS had a return on equity of 10.18% and a net margin of 11.98%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up .5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.34 EPS. sell-side analysts forecast that ABAXIS will post 1.11 EPS for the current year.

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ABAXIS announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, October 24th that allows the company to buyback $21.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization allows the medical research company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 15th. Investors of record on Friday, December 1st will be paid a dividend of $0.16 per share. This is an increase from ABAXIS’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, November 30th. This represents a $0.64 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.38%. ABAXIS’s dividend payout ratio is presently 46.67%.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in ABAX. BlackRock Inc. boosted its stake in ABAXIS by 132,779.9% during the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,689,490 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $130,442,000 after purchasing an additional 2,687,466 shares during the period. Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in ABAXIS by 11.9% during the 3rd quarter. Kayne Anderson Rudnick Investment Management LLC now owns 3,504,059 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $156,457,000 after purchasing an additional 371,942 shares during the period. Russell Investments Group Ltd. boosted its stake in ABAXIS by 55.5% during the 3rd quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 172,256 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $7,692,000 after purchasing an additional 61,475 shares during the period. Copeland Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in ABAXIS by 20.6% during the 2nd quarter. Copeland Capital Management LLC now owns 327,380 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $17,358,000 after purchasing an additional 55,929 shares during the period. Finally, State Street Corp boosted its stake in ABAXIS by 8.9% during the 1st quarter. State Street Corp now owns 563,999 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $27,351,000 after purchasing an additional 46,118 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 97.01% of the company’s stock.

About ABAXIS

Abaxis, Inc is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of portable blood analysis systems that are used in medical specialties in human or veterinary patient care to provide clinicians with blood constituent measurements. The Company markets and sells its products around the world through independent distributors and direct sales force.

Analyst Recommendations for ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX)

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