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ICON (ICLR) Gains From New Offerings, Strategic Acquisitions

ICON plc’s ICLR focus on Patient Access & Engagement strategy and favorable CRO industry trends are major tailwinds. Strategic partnerships are an added positive. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) currently.

ICON is gaining from its focused patient, site and data strategy, which is helping it to improve site identification and study placement, patient recruitment and retention. In this regard, Accellacare, ICON's global clinical research network, is successfully offering customers a wide range of stand-alone and integrated solutions at the site or in patients' homes as part of decentralized trials. The Accellacare Site Network encompasses more than 76 sites across six countries covering the United States and Europe. Accellacare offers a quality-focused clinical research infrastructure that delivers value and benefits to sponsors.

In terms of the latest development, ICON’s innovative and scaled offerings are resonating well with customers and strongly position ICON for further traction in new and existing customer accounts. In line with this, in the fourth quarter, ICON was awarded a new full-service strategic partnership with a top 20 pharma customer, creating significant new business potential in Phase I-IV studies across a number of therapeutic areas in their portfolio.

ICON is committed to expanding its business through strategic acquisitions and partnerships with existing customers while also developing new customer relationships. To support this objective, ICON continues to evolve its collaboration and delivery models, invest in technology that will enable closer data integration across service areas and enhance its project and program management capabilities. ICON continues to improve its scientific and therapeutic expertise to support its customers in specific areas, including oncology, rare diseases, dermatology, infectious disease and women's health.



ICON PLC price | ICON PLC Quote


Among the recent pacts, in October 2023, ICON acquired Philips Pharma Solutions, a leading provider of medical imaging and cardiac safety monitoring services. The acquisition will enhance ICON’s medical imaging experience and capabilities, particularly in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

In terms of innovation, in the fourth quarter, ICON stated that it continues to invest in AI and automation with the development of the Firecrest site and investigator database, designed to provide in-depth insights to address industry challenges such as investigator and site activity and their overall performance.

On the flip side, inflation and rising labor costs may result in significant increases in the cost of ICON services, which it may not be able to recover from its customers. The company’s contracts with clients are often fixed-price or fixed-price-per-unit contracts. A sustained increase in these costs may require ICON to increase the price of future service offerings. These actions could adversely impact ICON's future revenues, gross margin, or both. In the fourth quarter of 2023, ICON registered an increase of 4.7% in direct cost.

Other Key Picks

Some other top-ranked stocks from the broader medical space are Inspire Medical Systems INSP, Insulet PODD and Exact Sciences EXAS.

Inspire Medical Systems’ earnings are expected to increase 51.4% in 2024 compared with the S&P 500’s 17.1%. INSP’s earnings surpassed estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 353.6%. Its shares have declined 15.6% compared with the industry’s 19.7 fall in the past year.

INSP sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Insulet, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present, has an estimated long-term earnings growth rate of 18.1% compared with the industry’s 11.4%. Shares of the company have decreased 46.2% compared with the industry’s 1.3% fall over the past year.

PODD’s earnings surpassed estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 100.1%. In the last reported quarter, it delivered an earnings surprise of 108.9%.

Exact Sciences, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 at present, has an estimated earnings growth rate of 23.8% for 2024 compared with the industry’s 13.1%. Shares of EXAS have dropped 2.4% compared with the industry’s 17% decrease over the past year.

EXAS’ earnings surpassed estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average surprise being 51.5%. In the last reported quarter, it delivered an earnings surprise of 49.1%.

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