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COVID-19 Tests a Boon for Quest Diagnostics

Shares of Quest Diagnostics Inc (DGX) were trading at around $154.77 apiece at close on Friday, September 17, outperforming the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) $132.35, by more than
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Shares of Quest Diagnostics Inc (DGX) were trading at around $154.77 apiece at close on Friday, September 17, outperforming the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) $132.35, by more than 10% so far this year.

The shares have a good likelihood to increase further over the upcoming twelve months. The triggering catalyst looks to be strong enough to continue to outpace the sector. So, I am bullish regarding this stock.

Based in Secaucus, New Jersey, Quest Diagnostics Incorporated develops diagnostic information services that it then provides to patients, various healthcare professionals, and hospitals located in the United States and internationally.
(See DGX stock charts on TipRanks)

From the Second Quarter Report

The return to normal life after a period of restrictions and other measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus had a positive impact on the financials of Quest in the second quarter of 2021. People were allowed again to access the healthcare system services, and the company could restart doing business, reaching new laboratory management agreements with more hospitals.

Thus, the adjusted diluted EPS jumped nearly 124% year-over-year to $3.18 versus the consensus average of $2.86, on total revenues of approximately $2.55 billion. The top line item grew more than 39% year-over-year and topped projections by $170 million.

Furthermore, the operating activities produced a higher cash flow of $460 million in the second quarter, exceeding that for the analogous period of 2020 by a little more than 30%.

Market Prospects

In the short run, the demand for tests to detect the infection from the COVID-19 virus should remain robust, providing Quest Diagnostics with an additional source of income.

This is because the number of infections from the Delta variant is expected to increase in the upcoming weeks. People coming back from holidays, the ending of the restrictions, and the ability of the virus to mutate into new variants are the main factors.

With its strong presence in the territory, serving fifty percent of physicians and hospitals operating in the United States every year, the company is well-armed to take advantage of a situation, which, according to Statista, is seeing the United States perform the highest number of tests for COVID-19 from any country in the world.

Statista adds that as of Sept. 17, 2021, healthcare operators have performed about 615 million tests in the U.S., while the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects that the number of tests will exceed 800 million before the end of 2021.

Looking Ahead to Full Year 2021

Quest Diagnostics forecasts that the adjusted diluted EPS will be between $11.65 and $12.35, compared to the consensus average of $11.59. Additionally, Quest estimates that the operating cash flow will reach $2 billion in 2021.

Wall Street’s Take

In the last 3 months, nine Wall Street analysts issued a 12-month price target for Quest Diagnostics Inc. The average Quest Diagnostics Inc price target is $162.22, implying a 4.8% upside. The analyst rating consensus is a Moderate Buy rating, based on 6 Buy, 3 Hold and zero Sell ratings.

Summary

There is a good likelihood the stock will continue to outperform the overall market, as the business lies on solid fundamentals. In the near term, it will benefit from the expected rise in the demand for the COVID-19 molecular tests.

Disclosure: At the time of publication, Alberto Abaterusso did not have a position in any of the securities mentioned in this article.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article represents the views and opinion of the writer only, and not the views or opinion of TipRanks or its affiliates, and should be considered for informational purposes only. TipRanks makes no warranties about the completeness, accuracy or reliability of such information. Nothing in this article should be taken as a recommendation or solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Nothing in the article constitutes legal, professional, investment and/or financial advice and/or takes into account the specific needs and/or requirements of an individual, nor does any information in the article constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters or subject discussed therein. TipRanks and its affiliates disclaim all liability or responsibility with respect to the content of the article, and any action taken upon the information in the article is at your own and sole risk. The link to this article does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by TipRanks or its affiliates. Past performance is not indicative of future results, prices or performance.


The post COVID-19 Tests a Boon for Quest Diagnostics appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.

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Spread & Containment

Biden Suffers Worst Approval Ratings Plunge Of Any President Since World War II 

Biden Suffers Worst Approval Ratings Plunge Of Any President Since World War II 

President Biden’s job approval rating has fallen the most since the start of his term than any other president since World War II. 

A new Gallup poll was…

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Biden Suffers Worst Approval Ratings Plunge Of Any President Since World War II 

President Biden's job approval rating has fallen the most since the start of his term than any other president since World War II. 

A new Gallup poll was released Friday, polling Americans between Oct. 1-19 shows Biden's approval rating plunged from 56% in Q1 to 44.7% in Q3, a whopping 11.3 percentage points that any president hasn't seen in over 75 years. 

"Biden began his term with relatively solid approval ratings, ranging between 54% and 57% from January through June. His approval dropped to 50% in July and 49% in August as coronavirus infections surged in the U.S. The chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August, which included the deaths of more than a dozen U.S. military personnel in a terrorist attack at the Kabul airport, was likely the reason Biden's September job approval rating fell further to 43%," Gallup said. 

We noted in June that Gallup data showed Biden's "honeymoon period" was over and said if the president cannot "tame inflation" could result in further rating declines. And, oh boy, were we right...

Biden also faces an increasing disillusionment among Americans that he can't fix the border crisis, snarled supply chains, high gas prices, soaring inflation, consumer goods shortages, and the coronavirus pandemic, among a whole list of other things. 

His ratings suggest no improvement in Democrat support, declining support among Independents, and only 4% of Republicans polled approve of the job he's done - that figure is likely to go to zero if things don't turn around for the president. 

The 88% partisan gap in job approval is extraordinarily high considering Biden campaigned on "unity." During his inauguration, he said: 

"We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward."

While Democrats are desperately trying to salvage their $3.5 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure plan, Americans are increasingly becoming confused about what exactly that means and how that will affect them. Repbulicans have requested the president to fix broken supply chain before more social spending. 

Souring support suggests Democrats could be on track to lose big in next year's midterms. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 14:00

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Government

Fauci Funded ‘Cruel’ Puppy Experiments Where Sand Flies ‘Eat Them Alive’; Vocal Cords Severed

Fauci Funded ‘Cruel’ Puppy Experiments Where Sand Flies ‘Eat Them Alive’; Vocal Cords Severed

While recent attention has been focused on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institutes of Health funding the genetic manipulation of bat coronaviruses..

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Fauci Funded 'Cruel' Puppy Experiments Where Sand Flies 'Eat Them Alive'; Vocal Cords Severed

While recent attention has been focused on Dr. Anthony Fauci's National Institutes of Health funding the genetic manipulation of bat coronaviruses in the same town as the bat coronavirus pandemic emerged, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have demanded answers over 'sick' experiments on drugged puppies, according to The Hill.

"Our investigators show that Fauci’s NIH division shipped part of a $375,800 grant to a lab in Tunisia to drug beagles and lock their heads in mesh cages filled with hungry sand flies so that the insects could eat them alive," writes nonprofit organization the White Coat Waste Project. "They also locked beagles alone in cages in the desert overnight for nine consecutive nights to use them as bait to attract infectious sand flies."

As The Hill's Christian Spencer writes:

The White Coat Waste Project, the nonprofit organization that first pointed out that U.S. taxpayers were being used to fund the controversial Wuhan Institute of Virology, have now turned its sights on Anthony Fauci on another animal-testing-related matter — infecting dozens of beagles with disease-causing parasites to test an experimental drug on them.

House members, most of whom are Republicans, want Fauci to explain himself in response to allegations brought on by the White Coat Waste Project that involve drugging puppies.

According to the White Coat Waste Project, the Food and Drug Administration does not require drugs to be tested on dogs, so the group is asking why the need for such testing. 

White Coat Waste claims that 44 beagle puppies were used in a Tunisia, North Africa, laboratory, and some of the dogs had their vocal cords removed, allegedly so scientists could work without incessant barking. -The Hill

The concerned lawmakers are led by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who said in a letter to the NIH that cordectomies are "cruel" and a "reprehensible misuse of taxpayer funds." Mace is joined by reps Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Scott Franklin (R-Fla.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Fred Keller (R-Pa.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Maria E. Salazar (R-Fla.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) via The Hill.

How will Fauci spin this?

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/23/2021 - 15:00

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Government

COVID-19 pandemic shifted patient attitudes about colorectal cancer screening

Key takeaways Credit: American College of Surgeons Key takeaways A survey of adults eligible for colorectal cancer screening patterns found a preference for at-home fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) versus colonoscopy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey.

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Key takeaways

Credit: American College of Surgeons

Key takeaways

  • A survey of adults eligible for colorectal cancer screening patterns found a preference for at-home fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) versus colonoscopy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Survey respondents reported less use of colonoscopy during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels, with factors related to both COVID-19 infection concerns and the financial strain of having copays.
  • FOBT shows potential as an alternative to screening colonoscopy to improve access to colorectal cancer screening in the context of COVID-19 safety and economic concerns.

CHICAGO: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients’ willingness to keep appointments for non-COVID-19 illnesses has been well documented, but a team of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University report that for people hesitant to come into the hospital or an outpatient center to get a colonoscopy, home-administered fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) may provide a useful workaround tool. About 30 percent more survey respondents completed home-based test during the pandemic than before.

Kristine Kenning, MD, MS, presented findings from a survey of adults age-eligible for screening at the virtual American College of Surgeons (ACS) Clinical Congress 2021. “The key message from our findings is that barriers to screening have increased during the pandemic, and we have to find a way to work with the community to increase those rates,” said Dr. Kenning, chief general surgery resident at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine, Richmond. “Our study found that people are compliant with, and willing to do, home-based fecal occult blood testing. This test provides a very important way for us to increase screening for colorectal cancer.”

The American College of Gastroenterology clinical guidelines recommend colonoscopy for colorectal cancer evaluation and following a positive FOBT with a colonoscopy.1 About 148,000 cases of colorectal cancers are newly diagnosed in the United States each year, the American Cancer Society reports, and they account for 53,000 deaths.2

About the survey

The cross-sectional survey involved 765 people age 50 years and older. Dr. Kenning and colleagues found that their respondents reported a higher completion of stool tests pre-COVID than the American Cancer Society reported,2 32 percent vs. 11 percent. During the pandemic, 50 percent of respondents said they completed the FOBT. By contrast, 44 percent of survey respondents who said they had colon screening during the pandemic underwent a colonoscopy. This practice appears to demonstrate substitution of stool-based testing for colonoscopy, Dr. Kenning noted. 

“Our study looked at attitudes toward colorectal cancer screening and how they were impacted during the pandemic, both related to concerns about the pandemic as well as to economic impacts,” senior author Emily B. Rivet, MD, MBA, FACS, said. “What we learned is that fecal occult blood testing was seen by patients as a viable alternative to conventional screening colonoscopy.” Dr. Rivet is an associate professor in the department of surgery, division of colorectal surgery, and an affiliated professor of internal medicine at VCU School of Medicine.

Patient concerns about copays

Notably, a greater percentage of respondents indicated being unemployed during the pandemic than the year prior: 7.4 vs. 2.6 percent. In addition, 41 percent of respondents expressed concerns about copays; 57.6 percent of those respondents said this was a factor for delaying screening. Dr. Kenning noted that she is working with Carrie Miller, PhD, MPH, the principal investigator of the larger survey, on a follow-up assessment of the pandemic-related impact on attitudes toward colorectal cancer screening. Dr. Miller is post-doctoral fellow with VCU’s department of health behavior and policy.

Other screening delays

Copays were not the only deterrent to getting scheduled colorectal screenings during the pandemic, the study found. Almost two-thirds of respondents—65.9 percent—confirmed concerns about COVID-19 exposure when scheduling colonoscopies; and 59 percent of them said this caused them to delay their screening. 

To address those concerns, respondents endorsed that being offered protective equipment (gloves and masks), visits to smaller offices, or weekend screening appointments would increase their likelihood of following through with the colonoscopy; respectively, 30.7 percent for each of the two former factors and 19.7 percent for weekend screening. However, 48.1 percent of respondents said they were willing to do an at-home FOBT as an alternative to colonoscopy, among whom 93 percent indicated they would be willing to undergo a follow-up colonoscopy if the FOBT was positive. 

Lessons learned from the pandemic

“Even pre-pandemic, the rates for colorectal screening in the United States were very far from 100 percent, so I think the lessons that we are learning from this pandemic and working with patients to find alternatives to what the conventional approaches have been in the past are going to be applicable to care moving forward. This approach applies even if we do eventually enter a post-pandemic state, which is, of course, what we are all hoping for,” Dr. Rivet said.

Dr. Kenning said the survey results show that there is still much work to do to improve colorectal screening. “Colorectal cancer screening has decreased significantly during the pandemic and still hasn’t improved to the rate that it was before,” Dr. Kenning said. “Making sure that we’re offering all of the options to patients is very important so that, whatever form of screening they’re comfortable with, they’ll start down that pathway in order to get the screening they need.”

The survey results also underscore the need to tailor colorectal cancer screening to each patient’s concerns and needs, Dr. Rivet said. “It’s important to have a conversation about all of these different alternatives and what the different positives and negatives are,” she said.

Study coauthors are Dr. Miller and Bernard F. Fuemmeler, PhD, MPH, also with the department of health behavior and policy at VCU; and Jaime L. Bohl, MD, FACS, with the department of surgery at VCU.

“FACS” designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

The study authors have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. The survey was funded as part of a larger survey led by Dr. Miller on colorectal cancer and funded, in part, through support of an institutional training grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute (T32CA093423).

Citation: Kenning K. et al, COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Colorectal Cancer Screening. Scientific Forum Presentation. American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2021.

______________ 

  1. Shaukat A, Kahi C, Burke CA, Rabeneck L, Sauer BG, Rex DK. ACG Clinical Guidelines: Colorectal Cancer Screening 2021. Amerc J Gastroenterol. 2021;116(3):458-479. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001122
  2. American Cancer Society. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2020-2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2020:22. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures/colorectal-cancer-facts-and-figures-2020-2022.pdf 

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 84,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.


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