Back to top

Image: Bigstock

Base Test Rebound to Drive Quest Diagnostics (DGX) Q2 Earnings

Read MoreHide Full Article

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (DGX - Free Report) is scheduled to report second-quarter 2021 earnings on Jul 22, before the opening bell.

In the last reported quarter, the company’s earnings of $3.76 missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.27%. Its earnings surpassed estimates in three of the trailing four quarters and missed on one occasion, the average surprise being 5.01%.

Key Factors to Note

Quest Diagnostics has been benefiting from its two-pronged agenda to accelerate growth and drive operational excellence. Just like other industry participants, the company’s second-quarter performance within its non-COVID base business might have registered significant sales rebound as the economy gradually returned to normalcy.

The base business recovered to near pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter. Compared to the first-quarter 2019 baseline, total base testing volumes increased 1.5% and benefited from M&A and new PLS partnerships that began in 2020. In March 2021, for the first time since the pandemic began, monthly organic revenues in the base business grew from the 2019 comparable figure. Through April to June, this trend is expected to have continued, banking on successful vaccination drives and reduced new case count.

More specifically, the company has been progressing well on the two-point strategy to accelerate growth and to drive operational excellence. In particular, the company is expected to have gained in the second quarter from the recent partnerships with Paige (to advance in the field of artificial intelligence (AI)-generated pathology for cancer diagnosis and care) and the Social and Health Research Center (SAHRC) of San Antonio, TX (to work on childhood hunger and obesity in Hispanic and Black communities in the wake of COVID-19). Further, banking on the company’s collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is expected to have advanced in Hepatitis C testing, which should contribute to the Q2 results. Further, the PLS partnerships with hospital systems in New York, Indiana and New Jersey, are expected to have significantly contributed to Quest Diagnostics’ second-quarter top line.

In terms of strategic acquisitions, Quest Diagnostics is expected to have secured high return in the second quarter from acquisitions of Mercy's outreach laboratory services business in Kansas, Mid America Clinical Laboratories in Indiana and Memorial Hermann Outreach and Blueprint Genetics.

Added to this, the company’s flagship laboratory in Clifton, NJ went live on Jan 4, 2021. This highly automated laboratory functioning too is expected to have contributed to the company’s second-quarter performance.

However, in terms of COVID-19 diagnostic testing, we expect to see the company registering considerable reduction in numbers due to adrastic fall in COVID-19 cases in the United States and other major developed countries. This might have hurt sales growth considerably through April and June.

Through the second quarter, however, the company made several significant strides in the field of COVID-19 diagnostic testing. In May, the company collaborated with Ginkgo Bioworks to provide COVID-19 testing services for Kindergarten through Senior (K-12) school to support classroom learning nationwide. The company has also expanded eligibility for $0 out-of-pocket COVID-19 testing through QuestDirect to assist in combatting the pandemic. These initiatives are expected to contribute to the company’s Q2 results.

Per the company’s media statement released in July, cumulative molecular diagnostic testing performed and reported through the three months of 2021 totaled 32.6 million. This compared favorably with 10.4 million in the first quarter. In terms of antibody testing, the company performed 5.4 million of tests in the to-be-reported quarter (first-quarter figure was 1 million).

Q2 Estimates

For second-quarter 2021, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for total revenues stands at $2.39 billion, indicating an improvement of 30.9% from the prior-year reported figure. The consensus estimate for earnings is pegged at $2.87, suggesting year-over-year growth of 102.1%.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for Quest Diagnostics this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. That is not the case as you can see below.

Earnings ESP: Quest Diagnostics has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Zacks Rank: The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #3.

Stocks Worth a Look

Here are a few medical stocks worth considering, as these have the right combination of elements to beat on earnings this reporting cycle.

Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (HRC - Free Report) currently has an Earnings ESP of +0.56% and a Zacks Rank #2. The stock is slated to release its third-quarter fiscal 2021 results on Jul 30.  You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +0.91% and a Zacks Rank of 2, at present. The stock is expected to release its second-quarter 2021 results on Aug 3.  

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LH - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +6.53% and a Zacks Rank of 2, at present. The company is scheduled to release its second-quarter 2021 results on Jul 29.