BCE Inc. (NYSE:BCE) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “BCE’s subsidiary, Bell Canada leads the Canadian broadband communications market through its recent launch of Home Hub 3000 WiFi services with Wireless 4K Whole Home PVR from Fibe TV. Increasing deployment of Gigabit Fibe , 4G LTE mobile networks, upcoming 5G networks, IP phone services and post-paid businesses should help the company gain customers. BCE’s recent acquisition of Q9 Networks fully should boost cloud suite. Thus, BCE’s strategic moves to enhance employee skills, increase capital investments and reduce expenditures though impressive, may impact the company’s financials and growth prospects if not executed properly. Moreover, stringent regulatory measures, decline in network access services lines, price competition, exposure to labor union issues covered by collective bargaining agreements leading to work disruptions and higher labor costs, operational risks and construction and launch delays are major risks.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and issued a $65.00 target price on shares of BCE in a research note on Friday, August 5th. Desjardins reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $64.00 price objective on shares of BCE in a research note on Wednesday, August 10th. Royal Bank Of Canada restated an “outperform” rating and issued a $61.00 price target on shares of BCE in a research note on Thursday, June 9th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated an “overweight” rating and issued a $66.00 price target (up previously from $62.00) on shares of BCE in a research note on Sunday, August 7th. Finally, Citigroup Inc. lowered shares of BCE from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note on Thursday, May 26th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and five have issued a buy rating to the stock. BCE currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $57.40.

Analyst Recommendations for BCE (NYSE:BCE)

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Shares of BCE (NYSE:BCE) opened at 45.66 on Wednesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $47.43 and its 200-day moving average price is $46.60. BCE has a 52-week low of $35.96 and a 52-week high of $49.03. The firm has a market cap of $39.70 billion, a PE ratio of 19.00 and a beta of 0.43.

BCE (NYSE:BCE) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 4th. The company reported $0.94 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.91 by $0.03. BCE had a net margin of 13.02% and a return on equity of 22.89%. The firm earned $5.34 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.10 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.87 EPS. The firm’s revenue was up .3% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that BCE will post $2.67 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, October 15th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th will be paid a $0.52 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $2.08 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.56%. BCE’s payout ratio is presently 88.56%.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Societe Generale purchased a new position in BCE during the second quarter worth about $118,000. First Interstate Bank raised its position in BCE by 62.9% in the second quarter. First Interstate Bank now owns 2,850 shares of the company’s stock worth $135,000 after buying an additional 1,100 shares during the last quarter. Cribstone Capital Management LLC purchased a new position in BCE during the second quarter worth about $170,000. Howland Capital Management LLC purchased a new position in BCE during the second quarter worth about $204,000. Finally, Park Avenue Securities LLC purchased a new position in BCE during the second quarter worth about $204,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 44.48% of the company’s stock.

About BCE

BCE Inc is a communications company. The Company provides residential, business and wholesale customers with a range of solutions to all their communications needs, including wireless, high-speed Internet, Internet protocol television (IPTV) and satellite TV, business Internet protocol (IP) broadband, and information and communications technology (ICT) services.

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