Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:LGND) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a research note released on Thursday morning. The brokerage currently has $165.00 target price on the biotechnology company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Ligand’s Captisol formulation technology has resulted in partnerships with several leading drug companies like Novartis and Amgen that provide it with funds in the form of milestone and royalty payments. Moreover, with regard to Ligand's internal pipeline, there are several candidates in development that could bring in future licensing opportunities. Nonetheless, Ligand’s entry into the Medical Devices Segment with the acquisition of multiple programs owned by CorMatrix is also encouraging. Shares of Ligand have outperformed the broader industry this year so far. However, the company derives a substantial portion of its revenues from royalties associated with the sales of Promacta and Kyprolis. Any setback related to either of these two products could have a substantial impact. Estimates have remained stable ahead of the Q3 earnings. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in the recent quarters.”

LGND has been the subject of a number of other research reports. BidaskClub raised shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a report on Friday, June 23rd. Stephens reissued an overweight rating and issued a $137.00 price objective (up previously from $125.00) on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a report on Wednesday, August 9th. Deutsche Bank AG boosted their price objective on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals from $103.00 to $104.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Tuesday, August 8th. ValuEngine raised shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, August 10th. Finally, HC Wainwright reissued a buy rating and issued a $150.00 price objective on shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in a report on Tuesday, September 5th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, three have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $144.20.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND) traded down 0.22% on Thursday, reaching $143.04. 182,798 shares of the company traded hands. Ligand Pharmaceuticals has a 52-week low of $87.50 and a 52-week high of $144.34. The firm has a market cap of $3.01 billion, a P/E ratio of 348.88 and a beta of 1.01. The stock has a 50-day moving average price of $135.83 and a 200-day moving average price of $120.77.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Monday, August 7th. The biotechnology company reported $0.67 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.25 by $0.42. The firm had revenue of $28.00 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $24.40 million. Ligand Pharmaceuticals had a net margin of 21.64% and a return on equity of 6.42%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 43.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.50 EPS. Analysts anticipate that Ligand Pharmaceuticals will post $2.95 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, CEO John L. Higgins sold 5,483 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $125.00, for a total value of $685,375.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 144,654 shares in the company, valued at approximately $18,081,750. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, VP Charles S. Berkman sold 18,625 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $126.96, for a total transaction of $2,364,630.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 24,423 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,100,744.08. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 37,208 shares of company stock valued at $4,733,796 over the last 90 days. Corporate insiders own 14.70% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 2.6% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,683,880 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $325,822,000 after buying an additional 68,887 shares in the last quarter. William Blair Investment Management LLC raised its position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 2.6% in the 2nd quarter. William Blair Investment Management LLC now owns 1,773,434 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $215,295,000 after buying an additional 45,256 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 3.2% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 1,741,818 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $211,457,000 after buying an additional 54,200 shares in the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC acquired a new position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $72,293,000. Finally, Eagle Asset Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals by 7.7% in the 2nd quarter. Eagle Asset Management Inc. now owns 490,841 shares of the biotechnology company’s stock valued at $59,588,000 after buying an additional 35,289 shares in the last quarter.

About Ligand Pharmaceuticals

Ligand Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Ligand) is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing and acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies discover and develop medicines. The Company is involved in the development and licensing of biopharmaceutical assets. The Company employs research technologies, such as nuclear receptor assays, high throughput computer screening, formulation science, liver targeted pro-drug technologies and antibody discovery technologies to assist companies in their work toward obtaining prescription drug approvals.

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