Quest Diagnostics Inc (NYSE:DGX) shares were up 6% during trading on Thursday after the company announced better than expected quarterly earnings. The company traded as high as $104.17 and last traded at $104.03, with a volume of 3,329,954 shares. The stock had previously closed at $98.11.

The medical research company reported $1.33 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.18 by $0.15. Quest Diagnostics had a return on equity of 14.61% and a net margin of 8.56%. The business earned $1.90 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.87 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.12 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 1.9% compared to the same quarter last year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, April 19th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, April 5th were paid a dividend of $0.45 per share. This represents a $1.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.73%. The ex-dividend date was Monday, April 3rd. Quest Diagnostics’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 40.00%.

Several equities research analysts have recently commented on DGX shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Quest Diagnostics from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $104.00 price target for the company in a research note on Monday, January 16th. Canaccord Genuity set a $90.00 price target on Quest Diagnostics and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 17th. Deutsche Bank AG restated a “buy” rating and set a $108.00 price target on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Wednesday, January 18th. Jefferies Group LLC upped their price target on Quest Diagnostics from $86.00 to $96.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, January 27th. Finally, Barclays PLC upped their price target on Quest Diagnostics from $92.00 to $98.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a research note on Tuesday, March 7th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating, five have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $98.46.

In other Quest Diagnostics news, SVP Michael E. Prevoznik sold 440 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, February 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $97.39, for a total value of $42,851.60. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 41,734 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $4,064,474.26. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, SVP Catherine T. Doherty sold 7,162 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $98.28, for a total value of $703,881.36. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 87,809 shares in the company, valued at approximately $8,629,868.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 101,589 shares of company stock worth $9,391,833 in the last ninety days. 1.50% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of DGX. Norges Bank purchased a new stake in Quest Diagnostics during the fourth quarter valued at $150,523,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 42.1% in the third quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,788,803 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $151,386,000 after buying an additional 530,043 shares during the period. Russell Investments Group Ltd. purchased a new stake in Quest Diagnostics during the fourth quarter valued at $43,286,000. State Street Corp raised its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 7.4% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 6,738,210 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $619,233,000 after buying an additional 462,214 shares during the period. Finally, Janus Capital Management LLC raised its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 86.0% in the fourth quarter. Janus Capital Management LLC now owns 997,531 shares of the medical research company’s stock valued at $91,674,000 after buying an additional 461,187 shares during the period. 87.71% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

The stock has a market cap of $14.30 billion, a P/E ratio of 23.07 and a beta of 0.68. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $98.48 and its 200-day moving average is $91.44.

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About Quest Diagnostics

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is a provider of diagnostic information services. The Company operates through two businesses: Diagnostic Information Services and Diagnostic Solutions. The Diagnostic Information Services business develops and delivers diagnostic testing information and services, providing insights that empower and enable a range of customers, including patients, clinicians, hospitals, integrated delivery networks (IDNs), health plans, employers and accountable care organizations (ACOs).

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