NEW YORK (

TheStreet

)

-- Baxter International

(NYSE:

BAX

) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity and growth in earnings per share. However, as a counter to these strengths, we find that we feel that the company's cash flow from its operations has been weak overall.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • BAX's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.9%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Health Care Equipment & Supplies industry and the overall market, BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC has improved earnings per share by 13.5% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC reported lower earnings of $2.40 versus $3.60 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.31 versus $2.40).
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that BAX's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $922.00 million or 8.34% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.

Baxter International Inc., through its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures, and markets products for people with hemophilia, immune disorders, infectious diseases, kidney disease, trauma, and other chronic and acute medical conditions. The company has a P/E ratio of 12.6, equal to the average health services industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Baxter International has a market cap of $26.87 billion and is part of the

health care

sector and

health services

industry. Shares are down 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

You can view the full

Baxter International Ratings Report

or get investment ideas from our

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