Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE:DGX) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has a $93.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 11.91% from the company’s current price.

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 equities analysts have also issued reports about the company. Credit Suisse Group AG restated a “hold” rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Tuesday, May 24th. Mizuho reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $84.00 price objective on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Friday, June 3rd. Jefferies Group lifted their price objective on Quest Diagnostics from $75.00 to $86.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, July 22nd. Morgan Stanley reiterated a “sell” rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Tuesday, June 7th. Finally, Evercore ISI reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $89.50 price objective (up from $78.50) on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Sunday, July 24th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the stock. Quest Diagnostics presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $82.45.

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Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) traded up 0.63% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $83.62. The company had a trading volume of 533,342 shares. The company has a 50-day moving average of $84.09 and a 200-day moving average of $78.47. The stock has a market capitalization of $11.62 billion, a PE ratio of 14.59 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 quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $1.34 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.32 by $0.02. Quest Diagnostics had a return on equity of 14.41% and a net margin of 11.02%. The business had revenue of $1.91 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.91 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.25 EPS. Quest Diagnostics’s revenue for the quarter was down 1.0% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts predict that Quest Diagnostics will post $5.11 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business 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 dividend of $0.40 per share. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.93%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 30th. Quest Diagnostics’s payout ratio is 28.02%.

In other Quest Diagnostics news, Director Jeffrey M. Leiden sold 6,345 shares of Quest Diagnostics stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $85.62, for a total transaction of $543,258.90. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 7,233 shares in the company, valued at $619,289.46. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director Jenne K. Britell sold 4,000 shares of Quest Diagnostics stock in a transaction on Friday, August 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $84.76, for a total value of $339,040.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 1.50% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Norges Bank acquired a new position in Quest Diagnostics during the fourth quarter valued at $101,607,000. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. boosted its position in Quest Diagnostics by 4.2% in the first quarter. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. now owns 120,796 shares of the company’s stock valued at $8,630,000 after buying an additional 4,849 shares in the last quarter. Fjarde AP Fonden Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund boosted its position in Quest Diagnostics by 15.1% in the first quarter. Fjarde AP Fonden Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund now owns 33,418 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,388,000 after buying an additional 4,395 shares in the last quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX boosted its position in Quest Diagnostics by 8.2% in the first quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX now owns 34,758 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,483,000 after buying an additional 2,627 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Acadian Asset Management LLC acquired a new position in Quest Diagnostics during the first quarter valued at $399,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.33% of the company’s stock.

About Quest Diagnostics

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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