The following ratings changes were generated on Wednesday, Nov. 12.
We've downgraded Alcon (ACL), which engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices and consumer eye care products to treat eye diseases and disorders, from buy to hold. Strengths include its impressive record of earnings per share growth, revenue growth and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that the stock has had a generally disappointing performance in the past year.
Alcon reported significant earnings-per-share improvements in the most recent quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago, and during the past fiscal year, it earned $5.25 vs. $4.37 in the prior year. This year, the market expects further improvement to $5.92. Since the same quarter last year, revenue rose by 14.1%, compared with the industry average of 18% growth. The 0.31 debt-to-equity ratio is low, but it's higher than the industry average. The quick ratio of 1.69 is high, demonstrating strong liquidity.
Net income decreased by 51% over the same quarter one year prior, to $627.1 million, outperforming the S&P 500 but underperforming the health care equipment and supplies industry. Shares are down 43.42% on the year, an underperformance of the S&P 500. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor, and in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
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