Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a report issued on Friday morning. The brokerage currently has $59.00 target price on the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock.

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.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently commented on the stock. BidaskClub cut shares of Applied Materials from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Thursday, December 7th. Wells Fargo & Company assumed coverage on shares of Applied Materials in a research report on Tuesday, December 5th. They set an outperform rating and a $65.00 target price for the company. Vetr raised shares of Applied Materials from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $61.64 target price for the company in a research report on Monday, November 27th. Nomura reissued a buy rating and set a $65.00 target price (up previously from $55.00) on shares of Applied Materials in a research report on Tuesday, November 21st. Finally, Citigroup increased their target price on shares of Applied Materials from $60.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Monday, November 20th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, twenty-four have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $60.95.

Shares of Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) traded up $1.23 on Friday, hitting $52.54. 13,432,127 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 13,409,548. Applied Materials has a 52-week low of $31.66 and a 52-week high of $60.89. The stock has a market cap of $54,721.45, a PE ratio of 15.79, a PEG ratio of 1.00 and a beta of 1.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, a current ratio of 3.14 and a quick ratio of 2.43.

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, topping the consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.02. Applied Materials had a net margin of 23.62% and a return on equity of 41.51%. The firm had revenue of $3.97 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.93 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.66 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 20.4% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts expect that Applied Materials will post 4.04 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, March 14th. Investors of record on Wednesday, February 21st will be issued a dividend of $0.10 per share. This represents a $0.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.76%. Applied Materials’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 12.62%.

In related news, Director Stephen R. Forrest sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, November 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $290,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, VP Thomas F. Larkins sold 30,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, October 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $51.24, for a total transaction of $1,537,200.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.31% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. LeJeune Puetz Investment Counsel LLC purchased a new position in Applied Materials during the third quarter valued at $105,000. MPS Loria Financial Planners LLC purchased a new position in Applied Materials during the second quarter valued at $109,000. Wunderlich Capital Managemnt lifted its holdings in Applied Materials by 2.9% during the second quarter. Wunderlich Capital Managemnt now owns 3,037 shares of the manufacturing equipment provider’s stock valued at $125,000 after purchasing an additional 87 shares in the last quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. lifted its holdings in 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 in the last quarter. Finally, Migdal Insurance & Financial Holdings Ltd. purchased a new position in Applied Materials during the second quarter valued at $134,000. 79.15% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Applied Materials

Analyst Recommendations for Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT)

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