Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:LGND) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report issued on Thursday. The firm currently has a $165.00 target price on the biotechnology company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would suggest a potential upside of 15.35% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Ligand’s Captisol formulation technology has resulted in partnerships with several leading drug companies like Novartis and Amgen that provide it with funds in the form of milestone and royalty payments. Moreover, with regard to Ligand's internal pipeline, there are several candidates in development that could bring in future licensing opportunities. Nonetheless, Ligand’s entry into the Medical Devices Segment with the acquisition of multiple programs owned by CorMatrix is also encouraging. Shares of Ligand have outperformed the broader industry this year so far. However, the company derives a substantial portion of its revenues from royalties associated with the sales of Promacta and Kyprolis. Any setback related to either of these two products could have a substantial impact. Estimates have remained stable ahead of the Q3 earnings. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on the stock. HC Wainwright restated a “buy” rating and set a $150.00 price objective on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a research report on Tuesday, September 5th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. Deutsche Bank AG restated a “hold” rating and set a $103.00 price objective (up previously from $100.00) on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a research report on Monday, July 17th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, June 22nd. Finally, Roth Capital restated a “buy” rating and set a $158.00 price objective (up previously from $135.00) on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a research report on Wednesday. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, three have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $144.20.

Shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ LGND) opened at 143.04 on Thursday. The firm has a market cap of $3.01 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 348.88 and a beta of 1.01. Ligand Pharmaceuticals has a 52-week low of $87.50 and a 52-week high of $144.34. The company’s 50-day moving average is $135.50 and its 200 day moving average is $120.67.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Monday, August 7th. The biotechnology company reported $0.67 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.25 by $0.42. The company had revenue of $28.00 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $24.40 million. Ligand Pharmaceuticals had a net margin of 7.39% and a return on equity of 5.05%. Ligand Pharmaceuticals’s quarterly revenue was up 43.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.50 EPS. On average, analysts expect that Ligand Pharmaceuticals will post $2.95 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, CEO John L. Higgins sold 5,483 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $125.00, for a total value of $685,375.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 144,654 shares in the company, valued at approximately $18,081,750. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Matthew W. Foehr sold 6,100 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $127.51, for a total transaction of $777,811.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 101,020 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $12,881,060.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 37,208 shares of company stock valued at $4,733,796 in the last quarter. Insiders own 14.70% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in LGND. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 166,566.2% in the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,614,993 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $276,770,000 after purchasing an additional 2,613,424 shares in the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC purchased a new position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in the 2nd quarter valued at about $72,293,000. Russell Investments Group Ltd. increased its holdings in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 38.2% in the 2nd quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 372,465 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $45,217,000 after purchasing an additional 102,892 shares in the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC purchased a new position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in the 1st quarter valued at about $10,702,000. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. increased its holdings in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 27.3% in the 2nd quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 471,058 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $57,186,000 after purchasing an additional 101,073 shares in the last quarter.

About Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Ligand) is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. The Company is involved in the development and licensing of biopharmaceutical assets. The Company employs research technologies, such as nuclear receptor assays, high throughput computer screening, formulation science, liver targeted pro-drug technologies and antibody discovery technologies to assist companies in their work toward obtaining prescription drug approvals.

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