Graco Inc. (NYSE:GGG) was the recipient of a large growth in short interest in the month of December. As of December 29th, there was short interest totalling 4,217,787 shares, a growth of 156.4% from the December 15th total of 1,644,865 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 662,871 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 6.4 days. Approximately 2.5% of the shares of the company are sold short.

Shares of Graco (NYSE:GGG) opened at $46.92 on Monday. The company has a current ratio of 2.23, a quick ratio of 1.46 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.31. Graco has a fifty-two week low of $28.39 and a fifty-two week high of $47.44. The stock has a market cap of $7,900.00, a P/E ratio of 75.68, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.84 and a beta of 1.24.

Graco (NYSE:GGG) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 25th. The industrial products company reported $0.38 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.35 by $0.03. Graco had a net margin of 7.72% and a return on equity of 42.05%. The business had revenue of $379.81 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $356.30 million. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.32 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 16.1% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts anticipate that Graco will post 1.45 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, February 7th. Shareholders of record on Monday, January 22nd will be issued a dividend of $0.3975 per share. This is a positive change from Graco’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.36. This represents a $1.59 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.39%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, January 19th. Graco’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 77.42%.

In related news, CFO Christian E. Rothe sold 12,750 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, December 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $132.01, for a total value of $1,683,127.50. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now directly owns 16,905 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,231,629.05. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, VP Mark D. Eberlein sold 5,902 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $130.26, for a total transaction of $768,794.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 734,752 shares of company stock worth $18,245,690 in the last quarter. Company insiders own 5.70% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in GGG. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its holdings in Graco by 8.4% during the 2nd quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 305,782 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $33,416,000 after buying an additional 23,718 shares in the last quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group purchased a new stake in Graco during the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $1,458,000. Franklin Resources Inc. grew its holdings in Graco by 24.6% during the 2nd quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 8,424 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $921,000 after buying an additional 1,664 shares in the last quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. grew its holdings in Graco by 2.9% during the 2nd quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 34,873 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $3,811,000 after buying an additional 970 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Riverhead Capital Management LLC boosted its position in shares of Graco by 73.0% during the 2nd quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 5,363 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $586,000 after acquiring an additional 2,263 shares during the last quarter. 28.75% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Several equities research analysts recently issued reports on GGG shares. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Graco from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, November 3rd. B. Riley reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $46.67 target price on shares of Graco in a report on Wednesday, December 20th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Graco from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, December 1st. Robert W. Baird reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $47.67 target price on shares of Graco in a report on Friday, December 15th. Finally, SunTrust Banks reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $42.67 target price on shares of Graco in a report on Friday, October 27th. Thirteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, Graco presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $41.67.

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About Graco

Graco Inc designs, manufactures and markets systems and equipment used to move, measure, control, dispense and spray fluid and powder materials. The Company specializes in equipment for applications that involve materials with viscosities, materials with abrasive or corrosive properties, and multiple-component materials that require ratio control.

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