Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Vertex beat both earnings and sales estimates in fourth-quarter 2017. Positive data read-outs and regulatory approvals in 2017 increased the eligible patient population for its two CF drugs, Kalydeco & Orkambi, which backed sales growth. Vertex’s CF pipeline is also quite strong with a broad portfolio of next-generation CF correctors.  A tezacaftor/ivacaftor combo medicine is expected to be approved in February, which will be a significant contributor to growth in 2018. Investor focus is on the triple combination CF regimens, which are crucial for long-term growth, as they have the potential to treat up to 90% of CF patients. The stock has also shot up significantly in the past year. However, Vertex faces some challenges with respect to commercialization of Orkambi in ex-U.S. markets due to re-imbursement hurdles. Also, competitive pressure is rising in the CF market with many other companies developing triple combo CF medicines.”

Other research analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. HC Wainwright restated a hold rating and set a $103.00 price target on shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in a research note on Thursday, February 1st. Bank of America lifted their target price on Vertex Pharmaceuticals from $180.00 to $197.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, February 1st. Needham & Company LLC reiterated a buy rating and issued a $195.00 target price on shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Leerink Swann reiterated an outperform rating and issued a $190.00 target price (up from $175.00) on shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in a research note on Thursday, February 1st. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. reiterated a buy rating on shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in a research note on Tuesday, January 9th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and twenty-five have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $180.07.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) opened at $152.01 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $38,440.00, a P/E ratio of 77.95, a P/E/G ratio of 2.23 and a beta of 1.61. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.01, a quick ratio of 4.58 and a current ratio of 4.79. Vertex Pharmaceuticals has a 12 month low of $84.39 and a 12 month high of $174.96.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, January 31st. The pharmaceutical company reported $0.61 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.53 by $0.08. The firm had revenue of $651.63 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $592.49 million. Vertex Pharmaceuticals had a return on equity of 11.02% and a net margin of 10.59%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 42.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.35 EPS. analysts expect that Vertex Pharmaceuticals will post 1.63 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase program on Wednesday, January 31st that permits the company to buyback $500.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization permits the pharmaceutical company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are typically an indication that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, CEO Jeffrey M. Leiden sold 125,000 shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals stock in a transaction on Monday, December 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $141.35, for a total transaction of $17,668,750.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 237,407 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $33,557,479.45. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Stuart A. Arbuckle sold 221 shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $147.29, for a total value of $32,551.09. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 403,165 shares of company stock valued at $62,154,183. 1.80% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Advisory Services Network LLC raised its holdings in Vertex Pharmaceuticals by 337.6% during the fourth quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC now owns 792 shares of the pharmaceutical company’s stock worth $119,000 after purchasing an additional 611 shares during the last quarter. Smithfield Trust Co. acquired a new position in Vertex Pharmaceuticals during the third quarter worth $135,000. Whittier Trust Co. raised its holdings in Vertex Pharmaceuticals by 153.5% during the fourth quarter. Whittier Trust Co. now owns 991 shares of the pharmaceutical company’s stock worth $149,000 after purchasing an additional 600 shares during the last quarter. FNY Managed Accounts LLC acquired a new position in shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the third quarter worth $162,000. Finally, SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the fourth quarter worth $184,000. 92.84% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated is engaged in discovering, developing, manufacturing and commercializing medicines for serious diseases. The Company is focused on developing and commercializing therapies for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF) and advancing its research and development programs in other indications.

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