Zacks Investment Research cut shares of ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note released on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Abaxis' rising operating expenses and a weak operating margin scenario pose concerns for the company of late. Challenges like competitive bidding continue to hurt the stock. This apart, valuation remains stretched. Overall, in the last six months, Abaxis has been trading below the broader industry. However, a year-over-year increase in revenues buoys optimism. We are looking forward to improved consumable revenues that boosted veterinary sales performance at Abaxis in the quarter. Meanwhile, the company is initiating new sales and marketing strategies. In this regard, recently in September, Abaxis started shipping VetScan UA, urine chemistry analyzer. Abaxis plans additional product launches in fiscal 2018, including the VetScan FUSE connectivity system.”

ABAX has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Bank of America reduced their price objective on ABAXIS from $42.00 to $39.00 and set an underperform rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 25th. Canaccord Genuity reiterated a hold rating and issued a $47.00 price objective (up previously from $46.00) on shares of ABAXIS in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Finally, TheStreet upgraded ABAXIS from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a research note on Wednesday, November 29th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $47.63.

Shares of ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX) traded down $0.40 on Tuesday, reaching $47.10. The company had a trading volume of 119,600 shares, compared to its average volume of 123,004. The firm has a market capitalization of $1,078.11, a P/E ratio of 39.58 and a beta of 0.86. ABAXIS has a 52-week low of $43.66 and a 52-week high of $55.95.

ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 24th. The medical research company reported $0.29 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.27 by $0.02. ABAXIS had a return on equity of 10.18% and a net margin of 11.98%. The firm had revenue of $58.90 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $60.85 million. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.34 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up .5% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts forecast that ABAXIS will post 1.09 EPS for the current fiscal year.

ABAXIS announced that its board has approved a stock buyback program on Tuesday, October 24th that authorizes the company to buyback $21.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the medical research company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 1st will be paid a $0.16 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, November 30th. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.36%. This is a boost from ABAXIS’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. ABAXIS’s payout ratio is currently 53.33%.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of ABAXIS by 17.6% during the second quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,574 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $136,000 after purchasing an additional 386 shares during the last quarter. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of ABAXIS during the second quarter worth approximately $239,000. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in shares of ABAXIS during the second quarter worth approximately $260,000. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan raised its stake in shares of ABAXIS by 4.1% during the second quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan now owns 5,320 shares of the medical research company’s stock worth $282,000 after purchasing an additional 210 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd purchased a new stake in shares of ABAXIS during the third quarter worth approximately $257,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 97.51% of the company’s stock.

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Abaxis, Inc is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of portable blood analysis systems that are used in medical specialties in human or veterinary patient care to provide clinicians with blood constituent measurements. The Company markets and sells its products around the world through independent distributors and direct sales force.

Analyst Recommendations for ABAXIS (NASDAQ:ABAX)

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