Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Friday. The brokerage presently has a $59.00 price target on the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 14.99% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Applied Materials is currently riding on inflection-focused innovation strategy which is its primary growth driver. The company continues to witness technological advancements in semiconductor and display areas. Applied Materials is in a great position to grow sustainably and profitably based on its strong pipeline of enabling technologies, supported by expanding opportunities on the semiconductor and display fronts. 3D NAND, DRAM and patterning have led to significant market share gains. Nevertheless, high fixed cost structure and customer concentration remain concerns. Year to date, the stock has outperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Several other brokerages have also commented on AMAT. Royal Bank of Canada reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Applied Materials in a report on Friday, October 27th. Bank of America boosted their price objective on Applied Materials from $65.00 to $76.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 15th. Credit Suisse Group boosted their price objective on Applied Materials from $62.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. B. Riley reissued a “buy” rating and set a $63.00 price objective on shares of Applied Materials in a report on Monday, November 13th. Finally, J P Morgan Chase & Co boosted their price objective on Applied Materials to $70.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, twenty-four have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $60.95.

Shares of Applied Materials (AMAT) traded up $0.55 on Friday, hitting $51.31. The stock had a trading volume of 8,939,700 shares, compared to its average volume of 10,127,568. Applied Materials has a 12-month low of $31.66 and a 12-month high of $60.89. The company has a market capitalization of $54,134.88, a PE ratio of 15.62, a PEG ratio of 1.01 and a beta of 1.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a quick ratio of 2.43 and a current ratio of 3.14.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, November 16th. The manufacturing equipment provider reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Applied Materials had a return on equity of 41.51% and a net margin of 23.62%. The firm had revenue of $3.97 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.93 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.66 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 20.4% on a year-over-year basis. equities analysts expect that Applied Materials will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current year.

In other Applied Materials news, Director Stephen R. Forrest sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total value of $290,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, VP Thomas F. Larkins sold 30,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, October 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $51.24, for a total value of $1,537,200.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.31% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in AMAT. Bessemer Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Applied Materials by 145.4% during the second quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. now owns 3,067 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $126,000 after purchasing an additional 1,817 shares during the period. Pitcairn Co. boosted its stake in shares of Applied Materials by 6.7% during the second quarter. Pitcairn Co. now owns 31,236 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $1,290,000 after purchasing an additional 1,970 shares during the period. Advisors Asset Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Applied Materials by 28.2% during the second quarter. Advisors Asset Management Inc. now owns 48,432 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $2,001,000 after purchasing an additional 10,643 shares during the period. Gargoyle Investment Advisor L.L.C. boosted its stake in shares of Applied Materials by 6.3% during the second quarter. Gargoyle Investment Advisor L.L.C. now owns 45,700 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $1,888,000 after purchasing an additional 2,700 shares during the period. Finally, Dupont Capital Management Corp boosted its stake in shares of Applied Materials by 0.8% during the second quarter. Dupont Capital Management Corp now owns 459,664 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $18,989,000 after purchasing an additional 3,508 shares during the period. 79.15% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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