Shares of Cognex Corporation (NASDAQ:CGNX) hit a new 52-week high during trading on Friday following a better than expected earnings announcement. The stock traded as high as $77.43 and last traded at $77.38, with a volume of 1,381,604 shares. The stock had previously closed at $70.45.

The company reported $0.43 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.30 by $0.13. Cognex Corporation had a return on equity of 13.67% and a net margin of 26.59%. The business earned $129.32 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $116.93 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.22 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 32.3% compared to the same quarter last year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 17th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 3rd will be issued a dividend of $0.075 per share. This represents a $0.30 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.43%. Cognex Corporation’s payout ratio is currently 20.13%.

A number of equities analysts have commented on the company. Needham & Company LLC increased their target price on Cognex Corporation from $61.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Friday. J P Morgan Chase & Co assumed coverage on Cognex Corporation in a report on Thursday, January 26th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $66.00 target price for the company. Zacks Investment Research cut Cognex Corporation from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, January 17th. Deutsche Bank AG assumed coverage on Cognex Corporation in a report on Thursday, December 8th. They set a “buy” rating and a $74.00 target price for the company. Finally, Northcoast Research cut Cognex Corporation from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $59.00 target price for the company. in a report on Friday, December 2nd. Eight analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $57.31.

In related news, CFO Richard Morin sold 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.39, for a total value of $181,170.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 3,898 shares in the company, valued at $235,400.22. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Bruce Robinson J sold 25,750 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.95, for a total value of $1,569,462.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 16,875 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,028,531.25. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders sold 59,250 shares of company stock valued at $3,610,483. Insiders own 6.40% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its position in shares of Cognex Corporation by 4.2% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 3,147,606 shares of the company’s stock valued at $166,382,000 after buying an additional 126,659 shares during the last quarter. Royce & Associates LP raised its position in shares of Cognex Corporation by 0.8% in the second quarter. Royce & Associates LP now owns 2,669,509 shares of the company’s stock valued at $115,056,000 after buying an additional 21,100 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its position in shares of Cognex Corporation by 1.4% in the third quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 2,478,391 shares of the company’s stock valued at $131,008,000 after buying an additional 34,602 shares during the last quarter. Joho Capital LLC raised its position in shares of Cognex Corporation by 9.7% in the third quarter. Joho Capital LLC now owns 1,690,138 shares of the company’s stock valued at $89,341,000 after buying an additional 149,589 shares during the last quarter. Finally, GW&K Investment Management LLC raised its position in shares of Cognex Corporation by 4.3% in the third quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 1,341,249 shares of the company’s stock valued at $70,898,000 after buying an additional 55,578 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 90.00% of the company’s stock.

The firm has a 50-day moving average of $66.79 and a 200 day moving average of $57.21. The firm has a market capitalization of $6.64 billion, a P/E ratio of 51.51 and a beta of 1.33.

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About Cognex Corporation

Cognex Corporation (Cognex) is a provider of machine vision products that capture and analyze visual information in order to automate tasks, primarily in manufacturing processes, where vision is required. The Company’s machine vision products are used to automate the manufacture and tracking of discrete items, such as mobile phones, aspirin bottles and automobile tires, by locating, identifying, inspecting and measuring them during the manufacturing or distribution process.

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