Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE:DGX) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday. The firm currently has a $93.00 price objective on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price indicates a potential upside of 9.59% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Quest Diagnostics exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings as well as revenues for the second-quarter 2016. Keeping in line with its five-point strategy, Quest Diagnostics is refocusing on core diagnostic information services business through product launch and strategic alliances and is working on disciplined capital deployment. We are looking forward to the company’s recent partnerships with Safeway and HealthOne Systems of HCA Healthcare. We are also encouraged about the company’s newly launched three cancer tests that will provide clinically actionable insight into an individual's risk of developing hereditary cancer. Most importantly, after suffering through several quarters of low volume environment, the company has finally strated to witness improvement in terms of both volume and pricing. However, sustainability of this improvement is still a matter of question. Besides, reimbursement concerns remain.”

Other research analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. Canaccord Genuity set a $90.00 target price on Quest Diagnostics and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, September 14th. Mizuho reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $84.00 target price on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Friday, June 3rd. Credit Suisse Group AG reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Tuesday, May 24th. Evercore ISI reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $89.50 target price (up from $78.50) on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Sunday, July 24th. Finally, Jefferies Group boosted their target price on Quest Diagnostics from $75.00 to $86.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, July 22nd. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Quest Diagnostics presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $82.45.

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Shares of Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) traded up 2.12% on Wednesday, hitting $84.86. The company had a trading volume of 1,204,543 shares. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $84.09 and a 200-day moving average of $78.47. The firm has a market capitalization of $11.80 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.81 and a beta of 0.66. Quest Diagnostics has a 12-month low of $59.66 and a 12-month high of $86.85.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $1.34 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.32 by $0.02. Quest Diagnostics had a return on equity of 14.41% and a net margin of 11.02%. The firm earned $1.91 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.91 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $1.25 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was down 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts predict that Quest Diagnostics will post $5.11 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, October 19th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, October 4th will be paid a $0.40 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 30th. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.89%. Quest Diagnostics’s dividend payout ratio is 28.02%.

In other Quest Diagnostics news, Director Jeffrey M. Leiden sold 6,345 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.62, for a total value of $543,258.90. Following the sale, the director now owns 7,233 shares in the company, valued at $619,289.46. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Director John B. Ziegler sold 1,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, July 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $84.36, for a total value of $84,360.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.50% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Citizens Financial Group Inc RI raised its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 1,610.2% in the first quarter. Citizens Financial Group Inc RI now owns 1,676 shares of the company’s stock valued at $119,000 after buying an additional 1,578 shares in the last quarter. Financial Architects Inc raised its position in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 6.4% in the second quarter. Financial Architects Inc now owns 1,476 shares of the company’s stock worth $120,000 after buying an additional 89 shares during the period. Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC raised its position in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 792.4% in the second quarter. Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC now owns 1,651 shares of the company’s stock worth $134,000 after buying an additional 1,466 shares during the period. Integrated Investment Consultants LLC raised its position in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 10.4% in the second quarter. Integrated Investment Consultants LLC now owns 1,869 shares of the company’s stock worth $152,000 after buying an additional 176 shares during the period. Finally, Creative Planning raised its position in shares of Quest Diagnostics by 13.5% in the second quarter. Creative Planning now owns 1,972 shares of the company’s stock worth $161,000 after buying an additional 234 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 91.33% of the company’s stock.

Quest Diagnostics Company Profile

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is a provider of diagnostic information services. The Company operates through two businesses: Diagnostic Information Services and Diagnostic Solutions. The Company’s Diagnostic Information Services business develops and delivers diagnostic testing information and services to patients, physicians, health plans, hospitals, accountable care organizations (ACOs), integrated delivery networks (IDNs), other commercial laboratories, employers and others.

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