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With 85% ownership, AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) boasts of strong institutional backing

Key Insights

  • Given the large stake in the stock by institutions, AstraZeneca's stock price might be vulnerable to their trading decisions

  • The top 18 shareholders own 50% of the company

  • Using data from analyst forecasts alongside ownership research, one can better assess the future performance of a company

Every investor in AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) should be aware of the most powerful shareholder groups. With 85% stake, institutions possess the maximum shares in the company. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).

Since institutional have access to huge amounts of capital, their market moves tend to receive a lot of scrutiny by retail or individual investors. Hence, having a considerable amount of institutional money invested in a company is often regarded as a desirable trait.

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Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholders can tell us about AstraZeneca.

View our latest analysis for AstraZeneca

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About AstraZeneca?

Institutional investors commonly compare their own returns to the returns of a commonly followed index. So they generally do consider buying larger companies that are included in the relevant benchmark index.

We can see that AstraZeneca does have institutional investors; and they hold a good portion of the company's stock. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. If multiple institutions change their view on a stock at the same time, you could see the share price drop fast. It's therefore worth looking at AstraZeneca's earnings history below. Of course, the future is what really matters.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. We note that hedge funds don't have a meaningful investment in AstraZeneca. The company's largest shareholder is BlackRock, Inc., with ownership of 8.7%. With 8.5% and 5.0% of the shares outstanding respectively, Capital Research and Management Company and Wellington Management Group LLP are the second and third largest shareholders.

A closer look at our ownership figures suggests that the top 18 shareholders have a combined ownership of 50% implying that no single shareholder has a majority.

While studying institutional ownership for a company can add value to your research, it is also a good practice to research analyst recommendations to get a deeper understand of a stock's expected performance. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of AstraZeneca

The definition of an insider can differ slightly between different countries, but members of the board of directors always count. Management ultimately answers to the board. However, it is not uncommon for managers to be executive board members, especially if they are a founder or the CEO.

Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.

Our information suggests that AstraZeneca PLC insiders own under 1% of the company. Being so large, we would not expect insiders to own a large proportion of the stock. Collectively, they own UK£80m of stock. It is always good to see at least some insider ownership, but it might be worth checking if those insiders have been selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public, who are usually individual investors, hold a 14% stake in AstraZeneca. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand AstraZeneca better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for AstraZeneca you should be aware of.

If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.