Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “AstraZeneca has a strong product portfolio and is one of the key players in the global cardiovascular market. It has been very active on the acquisition and partnering fronts, and expects to continue pursuing accretive deals. However, the generic competition that AstraZeneca is currently facing has put significant pressure on the top line. Atacand, Toprol-XL, Seroquel and Merrem are already facing generic competition in the U.S. Moreover, AstraZeneca’s core products – Crestor and Nexium – are facing declining sales due to generic competition. Moreover, the outlook for 2016 is also disappointing. The diabetes franchise also faces stiff competition. Estimates have been mixed lately ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters.”

Other analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. Shore Capital restated a hold rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Wednesday, July 27th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated a neutral rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Monday, August 8th. Argus assumed coverage on Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Tuesday, July 12th. They issued a hold rating for the company. Citigroup Inc. restated a buy rating on shares of Astrazeneca PLC in a report on Wednesday, July 27th. Finally, TheStreet upgraded Astrazeneca PLC from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Friday, July 22nd. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $37.49.

Analyst Recommendations for Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN)

Shares of Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) traded up 0.31% during trading on Tuesday, hitting $32.67. The stock had a trading volume of 1,163,516 shares. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $33.33 and its 200 day moving average price is $30.74. Astrazeneca PLC has a 12 month low of $26.97 and a 12 month high of $35.04. The stock has a market cap of $82.66 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 37.34 and a beta of 0.75.

Astrazeneca PLC (NYSE:AZN) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, July 28th. The company reported $0.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.76 by $0.07. The company earned $5.60 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.56 billion. Astrazeneca PLC had a return on equity of 28.02% and a net margin of 9.23%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 4.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $1.21 EPS. Equities research analysts expect that Astrazeneca PLC will post $2.97 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a dividend, which was paid on Monday, September 12th. Investors of record on Friday, August 12th were issued a dividend of $0.44 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 10th. Astrazeneca PLC’s dividend payout ratio is presently 78.29%.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of AZN. Dodge & Cox boosted its position in shares of Astrazeneca PLC by 24.9% in the second quarter. Dodge & Cox now owns 32,532,723 shares of the company’s stock valued at $982,163,000 after buying an additional 6,483,073 shares in the last quarter. Capital International Investors increased its position in Astrazeneca PLC by 22.1% in the second quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 20,473,479 shares of the company’s stock valued at $618,094,000 after buying an additional 3,705,199 shares during the last quarter. Primecap Management Co. CA increased its position in Astrazeneca PLC by 17.4% in the second quarter. Primecap Management Co. CA now owns 15,365,950 shares of the company’s stock valued at $463,898,000 after buying an additional 2,281,675 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC increased its position in Astrazeneca PLC by 73.2% in the second quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC now owns 7,207,036 shares of the company’s stock valued at $217,580,000 after buying an additional 3,046,268 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its position in Astrazeneca PLC by 14.6% in the first quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 5,682,800 shares of the company’s stock valued at $160,028,000 after buying an additional 723,100 shares during the last quarter. 11.39% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Astrazeneca PLC

AstraZeneca PLC (AstraZeneca) is a biopharmaceutical company. The Company focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in various therapy areas, including respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune disease (RIA), cardiovascular and metabolic disease (CVMD) and oncology, as well as in infection, neuroscience and gastrointestinal areas.

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