West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) Sees Significant Growth in Short Interest

West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) was the target of a large increase in short interest in the month of February. As of February 28th, there was short interest totalling 2,006,057 shares, an increase of 56.9% from the February 15th total of 1,278,571 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 545,686 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 3.7 days. Currently, 2.8% of the company’s shares are short sold.

WST traded down $1.70 on Friday, reaching $83.32. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 395,313 shares, compared to its average volume of 398,033. The company has a quick ratio of 1.89, a current ratio of 2.66 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.15. West Pharmaceutical Services has a fifty-two week low of $77.97 and a fifty-two week high of $103.36. The company has a market capitalization of $6,290.33, a price-to-earnings ratio of 35.13, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.17 and a beta of 1.11.

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West Pharmaceutical Services (NYSE:WST) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 15th. The medical instruments supplier reported $0.64 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.62 by $0.02. West Pharmaceutical Services had a return on equity of 14.68% and a net margin of 9.42%. The business had revenue of $415.60 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $416.90 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.54 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 8.7% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts anticipate that West Pharmaceutical Services will post 2.85 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, May 2nd. Investors of record on Wednesday, April 18th will be issued a dividend of $0.14 per share. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.67%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, April 17th. West Pharmaceutical Services’s dividend payout ratio is presently 20.14%.

West Pharmaceutical Services declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback program on Thursday, February 15th that allows the company to buyback 800,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the medical instruments supplier to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of WST. Swiss National Bank grew its holdings in West Pharmaceutical Services by 0.8% in the third quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 123,000 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $11,840,000 after purchasing an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. grew its holdings in West Pharmaceutical Services by 4.8% in the third quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. now owns 12,510 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $1,204,000 after purchasing an additional 578 shares during the last quarter. Sei Investments Co. boosted its stake in shares of West Pharmaceutical Services by 2,696.4% during the third quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 26,762 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $2,576,000 after acquiring an additional 25,805 shares during the last quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama boosted its stake in shares of West Pharmaceutical Services by 0.5% during the third quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama now owns 138,483 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $13,330,000 after acquiring an additional 660 shares during the last quarter. Finally, New York State Common Retirement Fund boosted its stake in shares of West Pharmaceutical Services by 1.5% during the third quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 163,900 shares of the medical instruments supplier’s stock valued at $15,777,000 after acquiring an additional 2,500 shares during the last quarter. 94.39% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Several research firms have recently commented on WST. Goldman Sachs assumed coverage on West Pharmaceutical Services in a report on Wednesday, January 24th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $110.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research downgraded West Pharmaceutical Services from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Saturday, January 6th. Finally, ValuEngine downgraded West Pharmaceutical Services from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Saturday. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $108.17.

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West Pharmaceutical Services Company Profile

West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc manufactures and sells containment and delivery systems for injectable drugs and healthcare products in the United States, Germany, France, Other European countries, and internationally. The company operates through two segments, Proprietary Products and Contract-Manufactured Products.

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