Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Monday morning, 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.”

Other equities research analysts have also issued research reports about the stock. Deutsche Bank reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Tuesday, February 26th. ValuEngine raised shares of AstraZeneca from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, February 14th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $48.00 price target on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Tuesday, January 15th. Bank of America reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Friday, December 14th. Finally, SunTrust Banks initiated coverage on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Thursday, December 13th. They set a buy rating and a $48.00 price target for the company. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $45.46.

NYSE AZN opened at $40.54 on Monday. AstraZeneca has a 52 week low of $34.38 and a 52 week high of $43.29. The stock has a market cap of $103.06 billion, a PE ratio of 11.72, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.19 and a beta of 0.51. The company has a quick ratio of 0.78, a current ratio of 0.96 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.24.

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $1.58 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.85. AstraZeneca had a net margin of 9.76% and a return on equity of 32.47%. The firm had revenue of $6.42 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $6.33 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.30 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 11.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Sell-side analysts forecast that AstraZeneca will post 1.79 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a semiannual dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, March 27th. Investors of record on Friday, March 1st were issued a $0.95 dividend. This represents a yield of 4.64%. This is a positive change from AstraZeneca’s previous semiannual dividend of $0.45. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 28th. AstraZeneca’s dividend payout ratio is currently 53.76%.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Lake Point Wealth Management purchased a new stake in AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth approximately $195,000. Mackenzie Financial Corp increased its holdings in AstraZeneca by 311.8% in the 4th quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp now owns 122,231 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,642,000 after acquiring an additional 92,551 shares in the last quarter. Sit Investment Associates Inc. purchased a new stake in AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth approximately $171,000. Wealth Alliance Advisory Group LLC purchased a new stake in AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth approximately $216,000. Finally, Cavalier Investments LLC purchased a new stake in AstraZeneca in the 4th quarter worth approximately $889,000. 18.31% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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