Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Sunday.

According to Zacks, “Wal-Mart Stores, which recently announced plans to drop the “hyphen” and “stores” from its name to officially emerge as an omnichannel retailer, has surpassed the industry in a year. The company has been riding on its robust past record, which derives strength from constant e-commerce initiatives, like buyouts, alliances, surging grocery business and improved delivery systems. Thanks to these trends, along with solid traffic, Walmart’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 marked its ninth and 13th straight quarter of positive earnings surprise and comps growth, respectively. Also, the company’s international business remains a growth driver. However, costs associated with technological and e-commerce investments; mix impact from growing e-commerce operations and a compelling pricing strategy have been hurting Walmart’s gross margin for a while now. Stiff competition and volatile consumer spending also pose threats.”

Other equities research analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Telsey Advisory Group reduced their price target on Wal-Mart Stores from $108.00 to $96.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Royal Bank of Canada upped their price target on Wal-Mart Stores from $83.00 to $92.00 and gave the company an “underperform” rating in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Moffett Nathanson started coverage on Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Monday, December 4th. They issued a “neutral” rating on the stock. Wells Fargo & Co set a $101.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Tuesday, January 2nd. Finally, Jefferies Group upped their target price on Wal-Mart Stores from $93.00 to $97.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 11th. Nineteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, sixteen have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $99.44.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE WMT) opened at $104.59 on Friday. Wal-Mart Stores has a 52-week low of $65.28 and a 52-week high of $104.94. The company has a market capitalization of $309,840.00, a PE ratio of 27.82, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.12 and a beta of 0.37. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52, a current ratio of 0.81 and a quick ratio of 0.19.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, November 16th. The retailer reported $1.00 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.97 by $0.03. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.92% and a net margin of 2.31%. The firm had revenue of $122.14 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $120.23 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.98 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts expect that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.44 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, October 10th that permits the company to repurchase $20.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the retailer to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are usually an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In other Wal-Mart Stores news, EVP John R. Furner sold 1,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $99.29, for a total value of $119,148.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 48,757 shares in the company, valued at $4,841,082.53. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, SVP David Chojnowski sold 684 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $99.29, for a total value of $67,914.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 12,419,588 shares of company stock worth $1,207,333,538. Corporate insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. V Wealth Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 29.8% in the fourth quarter. V Wealth Management LLC now owns 6,389 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $643,000 after purchasing an additional 1,465 shares during the last quarter. TRUE Private Wealth Advisors purchased a new stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores in the fourth quarter worth approximately $571,000. Personal Capital Advisors Corp raised its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 5.5% in the fourth quarter. Personal Capital Advisors Corp now owns 326,236 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $32,216,000 after purchasing an additional 16,969 shares during the last quarter. Naples Global Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 16.7% in the fourth quarter. Naples Global Advisors LLC now owns 9,640 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $952,000 after purchasing an additional 1,380 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Hollencrest Capital Management raised its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 27.3% in the fourth quarter. Hollencrest Capital Management now owns 5,136 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $507,000 after purchasing an additional 1,100 shares during the last quarter. 30.58% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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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