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 down 1%. By the end of trading, AstraZeneca fell 52 cents (-1.1%) to $44.67 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1.7 million shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.5 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $44.46-$44.77 after having opened the day at $44.74 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $45.19. Other companies within the Drugs industry that declined today were: Gentium SpA ( GENT), down 20.6%, Chelsea Therapeutics International ( CHTP), down 11%, Achillion Pharmaceuticals ( ACHN), down 10.8%, and Vermillion ( VRML), 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 $57.48 billion and is part of the health care sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.3, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.4% 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, growth in earnings per share, expanding profit margins and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

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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