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

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 lower today making it today's featured Drugs laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.5%. By the end of trading, AstraZeneca fell 73 cents (-1.6%) to $44.34 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, two million shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.2 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $44.17-$44.73 after having opened the day at $44.64 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $45.07. Other companies within the Drugs industry that declined today were: Dynavax Technologies Corporation ( DVAX), down 47.3%, Senesco Technologies ( SNT), down 15.8%, Tranzyme ( TZYM), down 15.6%, and MediciNova ( MNOV), down 10.1%.
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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 $56.67 billion and is part of the health care sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 2.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. 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, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the positive front, Prana Biotechnology ( PRAN), up 16.9%, Zalicus ( ZLCS), up 15.6%, DARA Biosciences ( DARA), up 15%, and Delcath Systems ( DCTH), up 11.5%, were all gainers within the drugs industry with Biogen Idec ( BIIB) being today's featured drugs industry leader.

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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