Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. (NYSE:WST) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “West Pharmaceutical Services applies technologies to the process of bringing new drug therapies and healthcare products. West’s technologies include the design and manufacture of packaging components for pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer products; research and development of drug delivery systems; contract manufacturing and packaging services; clinical services; and contract laboratory services and other services that support the manufacturing, filling and packaging of pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer products. “

A number of other brokerages also recently commented on WST. Wells Fargo & Co. downgraded shares of West Pharmaceutical Services from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a report on Wednesday, September 21st. Jefferies Group reiterated a hold rating on shares of West Pharmaceutical Services in a research note on Thursday, August 4th. Finally, Janney Montgomery Scott reiterated a fair value rating and set a $72.55 price objective (down from $90.00) on shares of West Pharmaceutical Services in a research note on Monday, September 26th.

Shares of West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) opened at 80.14 on Friday. The firm has a market capitalization of $5.86 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 43.34 and a beta of 0.95. West Pharmaceutical Services has a 12-month low of $53.88 and a 12-month high of $84.33. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $74.08 and its 200-day moving average is $76.33.

West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 27th. The company reported $0.53 EPS for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.53. The business earned $376.70 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $371.76 million. West Pharmaceutical Services had a net margin of 9.27% and a return on equity of 14.54%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 9.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.44 earnings per share. Equities research analysts forecast that West Pharmaceutical Services will post $2.20 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, November 2nd. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, October 19th were issued a dividend of $0.13 per share. This represents a $0.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.65%. This is a boost from West Pharmaceutical Services’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.12. The ex-dividend date was Monday, October 17th. West Pharmaceutical Services’s dividend payout ratio is 28.11%.

In other West Pharmaceutical Services news, Director Paula A. Johnson sold 3,042 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $81.55, for a total transaction of $248,075.10. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 38,450 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,135,597.50. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, SVP Karen Flynn sold 14,581 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.28, for a total transaction of $1,214,305.68. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 13,513 shares in the company, valued at $1,125,362.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 5.13% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of WST. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its position in West Pharmaceutical Services by 5.0% in the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 479,841 shares of the company’s stock valued at $33,262,000 after buying an additional 23,029 shares in the last quarter. Nuveen Asset Management LLC raised its position in West Pharmaceutical Services by 6.9% in the first quarter. Nuveen Asset Management LLC now owns 29,971 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,078,000 after buying an additional 1,940 shares in the last quarter. Silvercrest Asset Management Group LLC raised its position in West Pharmaceutical Services by 1.3% in the first quarter. Silvercrest Asset Management Group LLC now owns 13,307 shares of the company’s stock valued at $922,000 after buying an additional 177 shares in the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY raised its position in West Pharmaceutical Services by 3.2% in the first quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY now owns 115,195 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,985,000 after buying an additional 3,524 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Arizona State Retirement System raised its position in West Pharmaceutical Services by 4.1% in the first quarter. Arizona State Retirement System now owns 37,836 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,623,000 after buying an additional 1,500 shares in the last quarter. 91.40% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About West Pharmaceutical Services

West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc (West) is a manufacturer of components and systems for the packaging and delivery of injectable drugs, as well as delivery system components for the pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer products industries. The Company’s segments include Pharmaceutical Packaging Systems segment (Packaging Systems) and the Pharmaceutical Delivery Systems segment (Delivery Systems).

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