Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Express Scripts (ESRX) to Hold
Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Friday.
According to Zacks, “Express Scripts ended the fourth quarter on a solid note, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate on both the counts. The company has been benefitting from a rise in patient claims and strong customer retention lately. Express Scripts’ solid guidance for 2018 holds promise. The company recently inked an agreement to acquire eviCore healthcare for $3.6 billion. Express Scripts' pharmacy-benefit management segment (PBM) coupled with eviCore's complementary medical-benefit solutions is likely to build a comprehensive PBM solution worldwide. Over the last year, Express Scripts has outperformed the broader industry in terms of price. On the flip side, the company recently announced that its biggest customer and leading health insurer Anthem is not likely to extend its PBM agreement with Express Scripts anymore. Persistent drug pricing issue is also anticipated to affect the stock. Intensifying competition also adds to the woes.”
ESRX has been the subject of several other reports. BidaskClub lowered shares of Express Scripts from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, February 14th. SunTrust Banks set a $82.00 price objective on shares of Express Scripts and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 14th. Maxim Group raised their price objective on shares of Express Scripts from $87.00 to $101.00 in a report on Wednesday. Royal Bank of Canada set a $68.00 price objective on shares of Express Scripts and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, December 15th. Finally, Jefferies Group set a $91.00 price objective on shares of Express Scripts and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday. Six analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating, nine have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $80.49.
Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, February 27th. The company reported $2.16 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.09 by $0.07. Express Scripts had a return on equity of 25.19% and a net margin of 4.51%. The company had revenue of $25.38 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $25.07 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $1.88 earnings per share. Express Scripts’s quarterly revenue was up 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. analysts predict that Express Scripts will post 9.35 EPS for the current fiscal year.
Express Scripts declared that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Monday, December 18th that allows the company to buyback 45,000,000 shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
In related news, VP Christine Houston sold 10,104 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, December 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.08, for a total value of $708,088.32. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 87,400 shares in the company, valued at approximately $6,124,992. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, VP Glen D. Stettin sold 3,449 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, January 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $81.00, for a total transaction of $279,369.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 33,715 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,730,915. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 21,896 shares of company stock valued at $1,617,903 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.
Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Van ECK Associates Corp raised its holdings in Express Scripts by 5.1% in the 3rd quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 506,511 shares of the company’s stock worth $32,072,000 after acquiring an additional 24,728 shares during the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in Express Scripts by 12.5% in the 3rd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 35,421 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,243,000 after acquiring an additional 3,940 shares during the last quarter. Hendershot Investments Inc. purchased a new position in Express Scripts in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $5,132,000. Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. purchased a new position in Express Scripts in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $3,708,000. Finally, LMR Partners LLP purchased a new position in Express Scripts in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $3,230,000. Institutional investors own 86.45% of the company’s stock.
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Express Scripts Company Profile
Express Scripts, Inc is a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company in North America, offering a range of services to its clients, which include health insurers, third-party administrators, employers, union-sponsored benefit plans, workers’ compensation plans and government health programs. It operates in two segments: PBM and Emerging Markets (EM).
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