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In an effort to reward shareholders, the board of directors of Allerganplc (AZN - Free Report) has sanctioned a new stock repurchase program, thereby allowing the company to buy back shares worth up to $2 billion.

The company also reiterated its commitment to increase quarterly cash dividend annually.

The company retained its previous target to pay down $3.75 billion of debt in 2018. These announcements reflect the company’s strategy to develop a strong future cash flow position and investment grade ratings by reducing its debt burden. Notably, Allergan has been prudent in paying down debt. The company repaid debt of almost $10 billion in 2016 and $2.6 billion in the first half of 2017.

The company has also reaffirmed financial guidance for third-quarter 2017 and FY17 which it previously issued in August earlier. Allergan expects total revenue in the range of $15.85-$16.05 billion for 2017. Adjusted earnings per share are expected in the range of $16.05-$16.45 during the same period.

Allergan’s shares were up almost 4% after the company announced the buyback of shares along with the reaffirmation of financial guidance and a hike in quarterly cash dividend. Also, shares have nudged up 0.8% so far this year against the 20.9% decrease of the industry during the period.

We remind investors that the company has recently completed a share buyback of $15 billion including a $10 billion accelerated share repurchase. It bought back shares from a portion of the net proceeds it generated from divestiture of its generics business to Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA - Free Report) , last August.

In a separate press release, Allergan announced retirement of Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Tessa Hilado. However, the company stressed that Hilado will continue in her current role until a replacement is found. The organization has already initiated a search for a new CFO.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Allergan currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the pharma sector are Aduro Biotech, Inc. (ADRO - Free Report) and ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACAD - Free Report) , both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Aduro Biotech’s loss per share estimates reduced from $1.46 to $1.29 for 2017 and from $1.41 to $1.26 for 2018 over the last 60 days. The company delivered positive surprises in two of the trailing four quarters with an average beat of 2.53%.

ACADIA’s loss per share estimates narrowed from $2.82 to $2.57 for 2017 and from $2.07 to $1.90 for 2018 over the last 60 days. The company came up with positive earnings surprises in two of the last four quarters with an average beat of 7.97%.

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