Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Express Scripts (ESRX) to Buy

Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday. The brokerage presently has a $82.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target would suggest a potential upside of 11.43% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Over the last year, Express Scripts has outperformed the broader industry in terms of price. The company’s solid guidance for fiscal 2017 holds promise. Express Scripts’ Multiple Sclerosis Care Value Program and SafeGuardRx solutions are likely to expand the customer base. The company recently inked an agreement to acquire eviCore healthcare for $3.6 billion. Express Scripts' pharmacy-benefit management segment (PBM) coupled with eviCore's complementary medical-benefit solutions is likely to build a comprehensive PBM solution worldwide. On the flip side, the company recently announced that its biggest customer and leading health insurer Anthem is not likely to extend its PBM agreement with Express Scripts anymore. Persistent drug pricing issue is also anticipated to affect the stock. Intensifying competition also adds to the woes.”

Several other research firms have also weighed in on ESRX. Mizuho set a $86.00 target price on Express Scripts and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 24th. SunTrust Banks reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $95.00 target price on shares of Express Scripts in a report on Friday, January 12th. Royal Bank of Canada raised Express Scripts from a “sector perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $68.00 target price on the stock in a report on Wednesday, January 31st. Sanford C. Bernstein lowered Express Scripts from a “market perform” rating to an “underperform” rating and upped their target price for the company from $55.80 to $77.50 in a report on Tuesday, January 30th. Finally, BidaskClub lowered Express Scripts from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating, ten have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $79.29.

Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) traded up $0.70 during trading on Wednesday, reaching $73.59. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 3,720,900 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,277,812. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.86, a current ratio of 0.73 and a quick ratio of 0.61. The firm has a market capitalization of $41,282.93, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.12, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 0.78 and a beta of 0.93. Express Scripts has a 12 month low of $55.80 and a 12 month high of $83.49.

Express Scripts announced that its board has approved a share repurchase plan on Monday, December 18th that authorizes the company to buyback 45,000,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are typically an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, VP Glen D. Stettin sold 3,449 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, January 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $81.00, for a total transaction of $279,369.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 33,715 shares in the company, valued at $2,730,915. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP Glen D. Stettin sold 3,448 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, January 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $76.00, for a total value of $262,048.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 17,001 shares of company stock worth $1,249,505 over the last quarter. 0.68% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in ESRX. Capital World Investors raised its holdings in shares of Express Scripts by 0.8% during the 4th quarter. Capital World Investors now owns 44,862,058 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,921,392,000 after buying an additional 358,150 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its stake in Express Scripts by 1.4% during the 4th quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 40,444,684 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,535,269,000 after purchasing an additional 559,493 shares in the last quarter. Dodge & Cox grew its stake in Express Scripts by 25.7% during the 2nd quarter. Dodge & Cox now owns 36,188,517 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,310,275,000 after purchasing an additional 7,388,021 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp grew its stake in Express Scripts by 1.1% during the 1st quarter. State Street Corp now owns 27,060,709 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,783,569,000 after purchasing an additional 298,341 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC grew its stake in Express Scripts by 4.2% during the 1st quarter. Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss LLC now owns 17,612,834 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,160,862,000 after purchasing an additional 704,218 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 87.46% of the company’s stock.

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About Express Scripts

Express Scripts, Inc is a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company in North America, offering a range of services to its clients, which include health insurers, third-party administrators, employers, union-sponsored benefit plans, workers’ compensation plans and government health programs. It operates in two segments: PBM and Emerging Markets (EM).

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