AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN) shares gapped up prior to trading on Friday following a stronger than expected earnings report. The stock had previously closed at $40.99, but opened at $39.98. AstraZeneca shares last traded at $40.67, with a volume of 261602 shares trading hands.

The company reported $1.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.85. AstraZeneca had a net margin of 11.29% and a return on equity of 27.32%. The firm had revenue of $6.42 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $6.33 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.30 earnings per share. AstraZeneca’s revenue was up 11.1% compared to the same quarter last year.

The company also recently disclosed a semiannual dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, March 27th. Investors of record on Friday, March 1st will be given a dividend of $0.95 per share. This is a boost from AstraZeneca’s previous semiannual dividend of $0.45. This represents a yield of 4.64%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, February 28th. AstraZeneca’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 20.56%.

Several equities research analysts recently issued reports on the stock. HSBC restated a “sell” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Monday, November 12th. Deutsche Bank restated a “buy” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research report on Monday, November 12th. UBS Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Monday, November 19th. Investec lowered shares of AstraZeneca from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, November 19th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group reaffirmed a “sell” rating on shares of AstraZeneca in a research note on Friday, November 16th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the stock. AstraZeneca has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $45.50.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Advisory Services Network LLC boosted its stake in AstraZeneca by 9.4% during the fourth quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC now owns 6,659 shares of the company’s stock worth $253,000 after buying an additional 570 shares during the period. HRT Financial LLC purchased a new position in AstraZeneca during the fourth quarter worth about $207,000. Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC boosted its stake in AstraZeneca by 0.8% during the fourth quarter. Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC now owns 66,695 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,533,000 after buying an additional 536 shares during the period. GQG Partners LLC boosted its stake in AstraZeneca by 11.5% during the fourth quarter. GQG Partners LLC now owns 2,998,017 shares of the company’s stock worth $113,973,000 after buying an additional 309,229 shares during the period. Finally, Cetera Advisors LLC purchased a new position in shares of AstraZeneca in the fourth quarter valued at approximately $339,000. 17.27% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.36, a quick ratio of 0.66 and a current ratio of 0.86. The company has a market cap of $92.65 billion, a P/E ratio of 9.56, a P/E/G ratio of 1.94 and a beta of 0.51.

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AstraZeneca Company Profile (NYSE:AZN)

AstraZeneca PLC discovers, develops, and commercializes prescription medicines for the treatment of oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neuroscience, and infection diseases 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, Crestor2, Plendil, Seloken/Toprol-XL4, Tenormin5, and Zestril6 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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