Essendant Inc. (NASDAQ:ESND) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “strong sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Essendant Inc. is a leading supplier of workplace essentials, with 2015 net sales of $5.4 billion. The company stocks a broad assortment of over 180,000 items, including technology products, traditional office products, janitorial and breakroom supplies, office furniture, industrial supplies, and automotive aftermarket tools. “

Shares of Essendant (NASDAQ:ESND) traded up 0.36% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $19.74. 182,292 shares of the stock traded hands. The company’s market cap is $736.24 million. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $19.41 and a 200-day moving average of $27.61. Essendant has a 52 week low of $18.56 and a 52 week high of $36.96.

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Essendant (NASDAQ:ESND) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 20th. The company reported $0.55 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.83 by $0.28. The company earned $1.35 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.36 billion. Essendant had a negative net margin of 0.72% and a positive return on equity of 13.75%. The company’s revenue was up .9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $0.82 earnings per share. Analysts anticipate that Essendant will post $2.24 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.14 per share. This represents a $0.56 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.84%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. Essendant’s dividend payout ratio is presently -52.34%.

In related news, COO Timothy P. Connolly sold 5,765 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $19.24, for a total transaction of $110,918.60. Following the completion of the sale, the chief operating officer now directly owns 40,773 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $784,472.52. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 1.60% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Essendant by 55.5% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,947 shares of the company’s stock valued at $126,000 after buying an additional 1,409 shares in the last quarter. PineBridge Investments L.P. raised its stake in Essendant by 3.4% in the second quarter. PineBridge Investments L.P. now owns 4,712 shares of the company’s stock valued at $144,000 after buying an additional 156 shares in the last quarter. C M Bidwell & Associates Ltd. acquired a new stake in Essendant during the second quarter valued at approximately $155,000. Teacher Retirement System of Texas raised its stake in Essendant by 13.8% in the second quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas now owns 5,223 shares of the company’s stock valued at $160,000 after buying an additional 633 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Barclays PLC raised its stake in Essendant by 1.5% in the second quarter. Barclays PLC now owns 6,599 shares of the company’s stock valued at $201,000 after buying an additional 99 shares in the last quarter. 96.98% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Essendant

Essendant Inc (Essendant), formerly United Stationers Inc, is a wholesale distributor of workplace items. The Company stocks an assortment of over 180,000 products in categories, including janitorial and breakroom supplies, technology products, traditional office products, industrial supplies, office furniture, and automotive aftermarket tools and equipment.

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