Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) Cut 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 research note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Walmart, which recently dropped 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.”

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on WMT. CIBC reduced their price objective on Wal-Mart Stores from $100.00 to $90.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research report on Wednesday, November 15th. Stephens set a $117.00 price objective on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, January 16th. Vetr raised Wal-Mart Stores from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $104.38 price objective for the company in a research report on Wednesday, January 10th. Telsey Advisory Group reduced their price objective on Wal-Mart Stores from $108.00 to $96.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research report on Friday, November 17th. Finally, Citigroup raised Wal-Mart Stores from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price objective for the company from $106.00 to $117.00 in a research report on Tuesday, December 19th. Eighteen analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, sixteen have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $100.30.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE WMT) traded up $1.46 on Tuesday, hitting $101.01. The stock had a trading volume of 3,995,797 shares, compared to its average volume of 8,887,174. Wal-Mart Stores has a 12 month low of $67.71 and a 12 month high of $109.98. The company has a quick ratio of 0.19, a current ratio of 0.81 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52. The company has a market capitalization of $297,750.00, a PE ratio of 26.84, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.55 and a beta of 0.42.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 16th. The retailer reported $1.00 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate 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 company had revenue of $122.14 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $120.23 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.98 earnings per share. Wal-Mart Stores’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% compared to the same quarter last year. equities research analysts anticipate that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.44 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other Wal-Mart Stores news, SVP David Chojnowski sold 684 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, November 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $99.29, for a total transaction of $67,914.36. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, EVP John R. Furner sold 1,200 shares of the stock in a transaction 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 of the company’s stock, valued at $4,841,082.53. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 12,419,588 shares of company stock valued at $1,207,333,538 over the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Pinnacle Wealth Planning Services Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores in the fourth quarter valued at $105,000. Lenox Wealth Advisors Inc. increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 13,287.5% in the fourth quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors Inc. now owns 1,071 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $106,000 after buying an additional 1,063 shares in the last quarter. Cerebellum GP LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores in the fourth quarter valued at $127,000. Financial Gravity Companies Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores in the fourth quarter valued at $139,000. Finally, Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 456.9% in the second quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. now owns 1,526 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $115,000 after buying an additional 1,252 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 30.45% of the company’s stock.

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About Wal-Mart Stores

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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