Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Monday, May 28th. The brokerage currently has $81.00 price objective on the medical instruments supplier’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Baxter outperformed the industry in a year’s time. It ended the first quarter on a solid note, beating the consensus mark for both the counts. Strong demand for CRRT, injectable pharmaceuticals, advanced surgery products, U.S. IV solutions and peritoneal dialysis therapies boosted sales worldwide. The latest strategic buyouts of RECOTHORM and PREVELEAK are noteworthy. Recently, the company got FDA approval for Spectrum IQ Infusion System. However, Baxter expects its pharmaceutical business to report flat revenues on a year-over-year basis in 2018 owing to stiff competition for select products in the segment. Further, foreign currency headwinds and intense competition have been dampening the company’s performance for long. Baxter’s cyclophosphamide performance over the last five years lacked luster. Lower cyclophosphamide sales pose threats to the Integrated Pharmacy Solutions franchise business.”

Several other analysts have also recently weighed in on BAX. BMO Capital Markets raised their price target on Baxter International from $74.00 to $77.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Barclays raised their price target on Baxter International from $73.00 to $77.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Royal Bank of Canada reissued a hold rating and set a $72.00 price objective on shares of Baxter International in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Citigroup raised their price objective on Baxter International from $66.00 to $70.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a report on Tuesday, February 6th. Finally, Deutsche Bank raised Baxter International from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $80.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Tuesday, February 20th. Seven research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $73.25.

BAX traded up $0.83 during trading on Monday, reaching $75.41. 2,573,527 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 3,219,299. Baxter International has a 12-month low of $57.32 and a 12-month high of $75.62. The stock has a market capitalization of $40.26 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 30.41, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.94 and a beta of 0.81. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.39, a quick ratio of 2.03 and a current ratio of 2.63.

Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 26th. The medical instruments supplier reported $0.70 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.62 by $0.08. Baxter International had a return on equity of 15.70% and a net margin of 7.75%. The firm had revenue of $2.68 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.62 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.58 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 8.2% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts forecast that Baxter International will post 2.89 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Baxter International declared that its board has initiated a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, February 20th that authorizes the company to buyback $1.50 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the medical instruments supplier to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 2nd. Investors of record on Friday, June 1st will be given a dividend of $0.19 per share. This represents a $0.76 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.01%. This is a positive change from Baxter International’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.16. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, May 31st. Baxter International’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 30.65%.

In other news, Director James R. Gavin III sold 18,750 shares of Baxter International stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, March 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $64.56, for a total value of $1,210,500.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 36,398 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,349,854.88. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Director Carole J. Shapazian sold 6,594 shares of Baxter International stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $71.79, for a total value of $473,383.26. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 16,442 shares in the company, valued at $1,180,371.18. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 74,104 shares of company stock worth $5,137,706. 0.07% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in BAX. Winslow Capital Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Baxter International during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $178,651,000. HealthCor Management L.P. bought a new stake in shares of Baxter International during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $111,504,000. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Baxter International during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $74,517,000. Renaissance Technologies LLC boosted its position in shares of Baxter International by 217.6% during the fourth quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,486,913 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $96,114,000 after purchasing an additional 1,018,800 shares in the last quarter. Finally, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of Baxter International by 103.8% during the first quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 1,652,618 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $107,487,000 after purchasing an additional 841,733 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 83.53% of the company’s stock.

About Baxter International

Baxter International Inc provides a portfolio of healthcare products. The company operates through North and South America; Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Asia-Pacific segments. It offers peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis, and additional dialysis therapies and services; renal replacement therapies and other organ support therapies focused in the intensive care unit; sterile intravenous (IV) solutions, IV therapies, infusion pumps, administration sets, and drug reconstitution devices; and parenteral nutrition therapies.

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