Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE:DGX) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Wednesday. The brokerage presently has a $93.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 8.48% 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.”

A number of other equities analysts have also recently commented on DGX. Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Tuesday, May 24th. Mizuho reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $84.00 price target on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Friday, June 3rd. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed a “sell” rating on shares of Quest Diagnostics in a research note on Tuesday, June 7th. Jyske Bank cut shares of Quest Diagnostics from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Friday, June 24th. Finally, Jefferies Group lifted their price target on shares of Quest Diagnostics from $75.00 to $86.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, July 22nd. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have issued a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $82.45.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) opened at 85.73 on Wednesday. Quest Diagnostics has a 52 week low of $59.66 and a 52 week high of $86.85. The company has a market cap of $11.92 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.96 and a beta of 0.66. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $84.08 and its 200-day moving average is $78.56.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $1.34 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.32 by $0.02. Quest Diagnostics had a net margin of 11.02% and a return on equity of 14.41%. 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 company earned $1.25 EPS. The firm’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 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, October 19th. Investors of record on Tuesday, October 4th will be paid a dividend of $0.40 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, September 30th. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.87%. Quest Diagnostics’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 28.02%.

In related news, Director John B. Ziegler sold 1,000 shares of the business’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 transaction of $84,360.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director Jeffrey M. Leiden sold 6,345 shares of the business’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 transaction of $543,258.90. Following the transaction, the director now owns 7,233 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $619,289.46. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.50% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of DGX. Cognios Capital LLC raised its position in Quest Diagnostics by 0.3% in the second quarter. Cognios Capital LLC now owns 2,929 shares of the company’s stock valued at $238,000 after buying an additional 10 shares during the period. Blue Chip Partners Inc. raised its position in Quest Diagnostics by 0.5% in the second quarter. Blue Chip Partners Inc. now owns 2,955 shares of the company’s stock valued at $241,000 after buying an additional 15 shares during the period. First American Trust FSB raised its position in Quest Diagnostics by 0.6% in the second quarter. First American Trust FSB now owns 3,136 shares of the company’s stock valued at $255,000 after buying an additional 19 shares during the period. Pacer Advisors Inc. raised its position in Quest Diagnostics by 1.5% in the second quarter. Pacer Advisors Inc. now owns 2,458 shares of the company’s stock valued at $200,000 after buying an additional 36 shares during the period. Finally, Baird Financial Group Inc. raised its position in Quest Diagnostics by 1.2% in the second quarter. Baird Financial Group Inc. now owns 3,271 shares of the company’s stock valued at $267,000 after buying an additional 40 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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