AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Today's Featured Drugs Winner

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

AstraZeneca ( AZN) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs winner. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.7%. By the end of trading, AstraZeneca rose 50 cents (1%) to $48.36 on light volume. Throughout the day, 745,278 shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.5 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $48.01-$48.40 after having opened the day at $48.32 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $47.86. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were: AspenBio Pharma ( APPY), up 48.9%, China Pharma ( CPHI), up 12.3%, Tianyin Pharmaceutical ( TPI), up 12%, and CHINA NUOKANG BIO-PHARMACEUTICAL ( NKBP), up 10.5%.
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AstraZeneca PLC engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases worldwide. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $60.42 billion and is part of the health care sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.6, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 7.7 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 3.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there is one analyst that rates AstraZeneca a buy, two analysts rate it a sell, and six rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates AstraZeneca as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals ( PPHM), down 33.1%, Cardiome Pharma Corporation ( CRME), down 16.2%, Cormedix ( CRMD), down 13.4%, and Hemispherx Biopharma ( HEB), down 10.5%, were all laggards within the drugs industry with Questcor Pharmaceuticals ( QCOR) being today's drugs industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the drugs industry could consider SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF ( XPH) while those bearish on the drugs industry could consider ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech ( BIS).

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