Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Advance Auto Parts’ is focusing on store expansions in order to enhance its profit. Additionally, it is also working towards the improvement of its comparable store sales and margins in the long-term. The company’s five-year strategy to a productivity pipeline will lead to the elimination of unnecessary costs. Also in the last three months, its shares have outperformed the industry it belongs. However, its rising SG&A expenses attributed to higher investments in customer focused strategies is hampering its gross margin figures. Also, competitive pricing among peers and availability of new vehicles leading to reduced requirement for company’s maintenance and repair of parts are few other headwinds for Advance Auto Parts.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. Stephens set a $108.00 target price on Advance Auto Parts and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Morgan Stanley set a $120.00 target price on Advance Auto Parts and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, December 12th. Moffett Nathanson began coverage on Advance Auto Parts in a research note on Monday, December 4th. They issued a “neutral” rating on the stock. Jefferies Group cut their target price on Advance Auto Parts from $130.00 to $130.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, November 15th. Finally, Citigroup raised their target price on Advance Auto Parts from $82.00 to $85.00 and gave the company a “sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday, November 15th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $107.91.

Advance Auto Parts (AAP) traded up $1.45 during trading on Wednesday, reaching $115.35. 1,354,125 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,574,491. The firm has a market capitalization of $8,520.00, a P/E ratio of 24.18, a PEG ratio of 1.96 and a beta of 1.00. The company has a current ratio of 1.52, a quick ratio of 0.32 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.32. Advance Auto Parts has a 1 year low of $78.81 and a 1 year high of $174.82.

Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, November 14th. The company reported $1.43 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.25 by $0.18. The firm had revenue of $2.18 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.21 billion. Advance Auto Parts had a net margin of 3.75% and a return on equity of 13.51%. The firm’s revenue was down 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.73 earnings per share. research analysts predict that Advance Auto Parts will post 5.24 EPS for the current year.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in shares of Advance Auto Parts by 2.7% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 6,966,176 shares of the company’s stock valued at $812,186,000 after purchasing an additional 185,970 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in shares of Advance Auto Parts by 25.6% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,425,799 shares of the company’s stock valued at $632,593,000 after purchasing an additional 1,105,519 shares in the last quarter. Artisan Partners Limited Partnership raised its stake in shares of Advance Auto Parts by 172.5% during the third quarter. Artisan Partners Limited Partnership now owns 2,922,315 shares of the company’s stock valued at $289,894,000 after purchasing an additional 1,849,808 shares in the last quarter. American Century Companies Inc. raised its stake in shares of Advance Auto Parts by 20.5% during the third quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 2,535,220 shares of the company’s stock valued at $251,494,000 after purchasing an additional 430,733 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Scharf Investments LLC raised its stake in shares of Advance Auto Parts by 9.7% during the third quarter. Scharf Investments LLC now owns 1,692,559 shares of the company’s stock valued at $167,901,000 after purchasing an additional 149,741 shares in the last quarter.

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About Advance Auto Parts

Advance Auto Parts, Inc provides automotive aftermarket parts in North America, serving do-it-for-me (Professional) and do-it-yourself (DIY), customers. The Company’s stores and branches offer a selection of brand name, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and private label automotive replacement parts, accessories, batteries and maintenance items for domestic and imported cars, vans, sport utility vehicles and light and heavy duty trucks.

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