Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Waste Management has underperformed the industry year to date. The pricing environment remains challenging and highly competitive due to aggressive bidding by smaller competitors. Moreover, Waste Management expects volumes to be down due to lower national counts as it strives for improved margin growth and pricing. In addition, continued decline in average recycling commodity prices and recycling volumes remain headwinds. Stringent government regulations are likely to erode profitability as compliance with such regulations increases the operating costs for the company. Time consuming permits and approvals to operate a landfill or any other waste management facility are often difficult to obtain and further act as deterrents. However, Waste Management aims to improve customer retention through better service and high value solutions, while extending its geographic footprint through opportunistic acquisitions.”

Several other equities analysts have also weighed in on WM. BMO Capital Markets assumed coverage on Waste Management in a report on Thursday, June 29th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $81.00 price objective for the company. Credit Suisse Group increased their price objective on Waste Management from $80.00 to $85.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Wednesday, June 28th. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. increased their price objective on Waste Management from $77.00 to $82.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 5th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus downgraded Waste Management from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and dropped their target price for the stock from $85.00 to $80.00 in a research report on Wednesday. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $75.74.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) traded up 0.38% during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $76.62. The company had a trading volume of 621,065 shares. The stock has a market capitalization of $33.72 billion, a PE ratio of 26.24 and a beta of 0.74. The company’s 50-day moving average is $77.23 and its 200-day moving average is $74.35. Waste Management has a one year low of $61.08 and a one year high of $79.28.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 26th. The business services provider reported $0.81 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the consensus estimate of $0.81. Waste Management had a return on equity of 25.07% and a net margin of 9.18%. The business had revenue of $3.68 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.62 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.74 earnings per share. Waste Management’s revenue was up 7.4% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Waste Management will post $3.19 earnings per share for the current year.

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In related news, Director Patrick W. Gross sold 487 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $74.68, for a total value of $36,369.16. Following the sale, the director now owns 23,222 shares in the company, valued at $1,734,218.96. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Director John C. Pope sold 453 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, July 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $74.38, for a total value of $33,694.14. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 51,470 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,828,338.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.19% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Waste Management by 5.0% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 34,374,879 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $2,521,397,000 after buying an additional 1,621,347 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Waste Management by 4.9% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 31,637,903 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $2,320,637,000 after buying an additional 1,475,583 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp raised its position in shares of Waste Management by 0.6% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 21,287,562 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $1,552,295,000 after buying an additional 134,152 shares in the last quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Waste Management by 10.2% in the first quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 5,614,368 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $409,399,000 after buying an additional 518,270 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in shares of Waste Management by 7,400.8% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 4,317,825 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $316,712,000 after buying an additional 4,260,260 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 74.93% of the company’s stock.

Waste Management Company Profile

Waste Management, Inc (WM) is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is a provider of waste management environmental services. The Company’s segments include Solid Waste and Other. The Company’s Solid Waste segment includes its solid waste business. The Other segment includes its Strategic Business Solutions (WMSBS) organization; its landfill gas-to-energy operations and third-party subcontract and administration services managed by its Energy and Environmental Services and WM Renewable Energy organizations; its recycling brokerage services, and its service offerings and solutions, such as portable self-storage and long distance moving services, fluorescent lamp recycling and interests it holds in oil and gas producing properties.

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