W.W. Grainger Inc. (NYSE:GWW) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “During its second quarter conference call, Grainger revised sales growth guidance to 1%–4% for 2016 and earnings per share outlook to $11.20–$12.20. Given the deflationary environment, the company remains cautious on gross margins and lowered its margin expectations. In addition, higher interest expense, tax rates & lower capital expenditure will hurt earnings. Moreover, its Canadian business continues to be affected by low oil prices, impact of the fire in Fort McMurray and unfavorable foreign exchange. Nevertheless, Grainger will benefit from acquisitions, focus on restructuring and growth in eCommerce channel. Further, strong performance of single channel online businesses and attractive growth opportunities in the large and fragmented MRO market bode well for growth.”

Several other equities analysts have also weighed in on the company. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “buy” rating on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Friday, June 10th. Barclays PLC increased their price objective on W.W. Grainger from $209.00 to $213.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a report on Monday, July 18th. Wells Fargo & Co. reissued a “hold” rating on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Sunday, September 4th. Credit Suisse Group AG initiated coverage on W.W. Grainger in a report on Friday, June 17th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $222.00 price objective for the company. Finally, Macquarie initiated coverage on W.W. Grainger in a report on Thursday, August 25th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $274.00 price objective for the company. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $228.75.

Analyst Recommendations for W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW)

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Shares of W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) traded down 0.50% during trading on Tuesday, hitting $219.47. The stock had a trading volume of 111,426 shares. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $226.49 and its 200 day moving average is $226.59. W.W. Grainger has a 1-year low of $176.85 and a 1-year high of $239.95. The company has a market cap of $13.26 billion, a PE ratio of 19.96 and a beta of 0.77.

W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, July 19th. The company reported $2.89 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $3.17 by $0.28. The business earned $2.60 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.58 billion. W.W. Grainger had a net margin of 6.91% and a return on equity of 31.26%. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $3.27 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that W.W. Grainger will post $11.54 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 8th were given a dividend of $1.22 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, August 4th. This represents a $4.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.21%. W.W. Grainger’s payout ratio is 44.40%.

In other W.W. Grainger news, VP Joseph C. High sold 1,722 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $220.00, for a total transaction of $378,840.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 7,531 shares in the company, valued at $1,656,820. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Company insiders own 9.60% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Norges Bank bought a new position in shares of W.W. Grainger during the fourth quarter worth about $111,107,000. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. boosted its position in shares of W.W. Grainger by 2.6% in the first quarter. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. now owns 48,445 shares of the company’s stock worth $11,308,000 after buying an additional 1,217 shares during the period. Fjarde AP Fonden Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund boosted its position in shares of W.W. Grainger by 9.3% in the first quarter. Fjarde AP Fonden Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund now owns 13,150 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,070,000 after buying an additional 1,123 shares during the period. Capstone Asset Management Co. boosted its position in shares of W.W. Grainger by 18.8% in the first quarter. Capstone Asset Management Co. now owns 12,351 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,883,000 after buying an additional 1,957 shares during the period. Finally, Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX boosted its position in shares of W.W. Grainger by 6.8% in the first quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX now owns 13,827 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,228,000 after buying an additional 879 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 82.68% of the company’s stock.

About W.W. Grainger

W.W. Grainger, Inc (Grainger) is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies and other related products and services. The Company offers its products and services to businesses and institutions in the United States and Canada, with presence also in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:GWW

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