The CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) share price has had an…. interesting few years. Since topping out at its all-time high of nearly $343 a share back in February 2020, CSL shares have more or less treaded water ever since.
At yesterday’s closing share price of $290.13 a share, CSL is ‘only’ up 1.8% in 2020 so far. That doesn’t look great against the broader S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO), which has managed a far healthier 9.34% in 2021. CSL is also up a very muted 2.6% over the past 12 months. Again this doesn’t compare too favourably against the ASX 200, which is up more than 20% over the same period.
This might come as a surprise to many investors. Prior to 2020, CSL was known as a red hot, but still blue chip, growth share. It managed gains of roughly 50% in 2019, more than 30% in 2018 and around 40% in 2017. So a retreat into single-digit numbers is certainly a sea change for this healthcare company. As is its withdrawal into market-trailing returns.
CSL had a rough time with the outbreak of the pandemic last year. It’s experienced issues with its blood plasma collections for one. It also had a potential vaccine candidate, developed in partnership with the University of Queensland, shelved last year.
But where to now for the CSL share price?
Is the CSL share price a buy today?
One broker who thinks there might be some small upside left in CSL shares is investment bank Goldman Sachs. Goldman currently has a 12-month share price target of $305 for CSL. Albeit with the caveat of a current ‘neutral’ rating.
The broker notes the ongoing sluggishness of CSL’s plasma collection business, as well as what it sees as “consecutive years of single-digit earnings growth” as the primary reasons behind this rating.
Goldman reckons there is “a long road to recovery” for the company’s plasma collections, which remain well below pre-COVID levels. Further, the bank is concerned that low earnings growth rates are not accurately reflected in the current CSL share price.
Even so, if Goldman’s share price prediction proves accurate, it implies a potential upside of 5.1% over the next 12 months.
My Fool colleague James recently discussed the predictions of two other brokers recently. He noted that both Citi and Credit Suisse had slightly higher share price targets on CSL right now, both at $310 a share.