AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Today's Featured Health Care 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 Health Care sector lower today making it today's featured Health Care laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, AstraZeneca fell 52 cents (-1.1%) to $47.48 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, two million shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.3 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $47.33-$47.87 after having opened the day at $47.77 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $48. Other companies within the Health Care sector that declined today were: Prima Biomed ( PBMD), down 19.8%, RTI Biologics ( RTIX), down 15%, OraSure Technologies ( OSUR), down 13.1%, and Accuray ( ARAY), down 12.4%.
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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 $60.32 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.6, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 1.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there is one analyst that rates AstraZeneca a buy, three analysts rate it a sell, and five 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, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the health care sector could consider Health Care Select Sector SPDR ( XLV) while those bearish on the health care sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Health Care ( RXD).

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