Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE:DGX) sees sharp drop in short-term interest

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE:DGX – Get Rating) was the target of a sharp drop in short-term interest in September. As of September 30, there was short interest totaling 5,220,000 shares, down 5.6% from the September 15 total of 5,530,000 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume of 853,300 shares, the short-term interest rate ratio is currently 6.1 days. Currently, 4.5% of the company’s shares are sold short.

Analysts set new price targets

A number of research companies have recently commented on DGX. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an “equal weight” rating and issued a price target of $142.00 on Quest Diagnostics shares in a Monday, August 22 report. StockNews.com began covering Quest Diagnostics in a research report on Wednesday, October 12. They set a “buy” rating for the company. Six research analysts rated the stock with a hold rating and three gave the company a buy rating. According to data from MarketBeat, the company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $148.50.

Quest Diagnostics trading up 1.3%

DGX traded $1.70 on Tuesday, hitting $129.63. The company had a trading volume of 32,667 shares, compared to an average volume of 903,014. The company has a market capitalization of $15.12 billion, a PE ratio of 10.64 and a beta of 0.96. The company has a quick ratio of 1.42, a current ratio of 1.54 and a debt ratio of 0.62. The company’s fifty-day simple moving average is $128.34 and its 200-day simple moving average is $133.34. Quest Diagnostics has a 12 month minimum of $120.40 and a 12 month maximum of $174.16.

Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX – Get Rating) last released its quarterly results on Thursday, July 21. The medical research company reported EPS of $2.36 for the quarter, beating analyst consensus estimates of $2.26 by $0.10. Quest Diagnostics had a net margin of 14.02% and a return on equity of 24.62%. The company posted revenue of $2.45 billion in the quarter, compared to $2.34 billion expected by analysts. During the same period of the previous year, the company achieved EPS of $3.18. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 3.8% from the same quarter last year. Equity research analysts expect Quest Diagnostics to post EPS of 9.67 for the current year.

Quest Diagnostics Dividend Announcement

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, October 19. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, October 4 will receive a dividend of $0.66 per share. This represents an annualized dividend of $2.64 and a dividend yield of 2.04%. The ex-dividend date is Monday, October 3. Quest Diagnostics’ dividend payout ratio is currently 21.96%.

Insider Activity at Quest Diagnostics

In other Quest Diagnostics news, Director Timothy M. Ring sold 2,000 shares of Quest Diagnostics in a trade dated Monday, August 1. The stock was sold at an average price of $136.04, for a total transaction of $272,080.00. Following completion of the transaction, the administrator now owns 23,933 shares of the company, valued at approximately $3,255,845.32. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available on the SEC’s website. 1.70% of the shares are currently held by insiders.

Hedge funds weigh on Quest Diagnostics

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of DGX. Mystic Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in Quest Diagnostics stock during the fourth quarter worth $25,000. Wagner Wealth Management LLC acquired a new stake in Quest Diagnostics in the second quarter worth $27,000. Sandy Cove Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in Quest Diagnostics in the first quarter valued at $28,000. Chilton Capital Management LLC purchased a new stake in Quest Diagnostics in the second quarter for $36,000. Finally, Win Advisors Inc. increased its stake in Quest Diagnostics by 44.1% in the second quarter. Win Advisors Inc. now owns 271 shares of the medical research company valued at $37,000 after buying 83 additional shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors hold 88.87% of the company’s shares.

About Quest Diagnostics

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Quest Diagnostics Incorporated provides diagnostic testing, information, and service in the United States and around the world. The Company develops and provides diagnostic information services, such as routine testing, non-routine and advanced clinical testing, pathology testing and other diagnostic information services.

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