Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has outperformed the industry in the past one year, as the company is pushing itself to adapt with the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters; while on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. The company therefore expects sales to rise approximately 3% during fiscal 2019, backed by the sustained growth in comps and e-commerce. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavourable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. It has also resorted to store closures in the U.S. owing to slower growth in small format Express stores.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on WMT. MKM Partners reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Tuesday, August 15th. Cowen and Company set a $86.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Monday, August 7th. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $80.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research note on Monday, August 14th. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research note on Friday, August 11th. Finally, Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $90.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Friday, August 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have issued a hold rating, fourteen have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $85.58.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) traded up 0.30% during trading on Tuesday, reaching $87.21. The company had a trading volume of 2,250,525 shares. The company has a market capitalization of $260.51 billion, a PE ratio of 20.95 and a beta of 0.29. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $82.57 and its 200 day moving average is $78.86. Wal-Mart Stores has a one year low of $65.28 and a one year high of $89.11.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $123.40 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $121.86 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.60% and a return on equity of 16.87%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.07 earnings per share. On average, equities research analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.37 earnings per share for the current year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, October 10th that authorizes the company to buyback $20.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the retailer to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

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In other Wal-Mart Stores news, Director S Robson Walton sold 646,330 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $80.20, for a total transaction of $51,835,666.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 3,344,956 shares in the company, valued at $268,265,471.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 621,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.28, for a total transaction of $48,651,020.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 6,748,580 shares in the company, valued at $528,278,842.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 9,924,828 shares of company stock worth $785,676,492 over the last 90 days. 51.39% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of WMT. FMR LLC grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 45.3% during the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 17,982,372 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $1,360,906,000 after buying an additional 5,608,785 shares during the period. Alliancebernstein L.P. grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 42.6% during the second quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 5,745,493 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $434,819,000 after buying an additional 1,716,422 shares during the period. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 52.9% during the second quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 4,883,390 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $369,565,000 after buying an additional 1,689,364 shares during the period. Karp Capital Management Corp acquired a new position in Wal-Mart Stores during the first quarter worth about $111,777,000. Finally, Neuberger Berman Group LLC grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 100.2% during the second quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 2,646,589 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $200,294,000 after buying an additional 1,324,722 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 30.18% of the company’s stock.

Wal-Mart Stores Company Profile

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes its mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart or Wal-Mart brands, as well as digital retail.

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Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

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