Raymond James & Associates increased its position in shares of BCE Inc. (NYSE:BCE) (TSE:BCE) by 0.5% in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The fund owned 3,682,161 shares of the utilities provider’s stock after buying an additional 17,956 shares during the period. Raymond James & Associates owned 0.41% of BCE worth $176,838,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.
Other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Mackenzie Financial Corp grew its holdings in BCE by 360.1% in the fourth quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp now owns 5,320,857 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $255,454,000 after purchasing an additional 4,164,461 shares during the period. APG Asset Management N.V. grew its holdings in BCE by 39.4% in the fourth quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 6,260,116 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $251,237,000 after purchasing an additional 1,768,100 shares during the period. Acadian Asset Management LLC grew its holdings in BCE by 24.8% in the fourth quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC now owns 3,471,341 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $166,662,000 after purchasing an additional 689,362 shares during the period. Highstreet Asset Management Inc. grew its holdings in BCE by 96.0% in the fourth quarter. Highstreet Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,390,670 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $66,801,000 after purchasing an additional 681,261 shares during the period. Finally, AGF Investments Inc. grew its holdings in BCE by 109.6% in the fourth quarter. AGF Investments Inc. now owns 1,236,627 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $59,401,000 after purchasing an additional 646,734 shares during the period. 45.35% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
A number of research firms have commented on BCE. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of BCE from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $52.00 price target for the company in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Barclays lifted their price objective on shares of BCE from $51.00 to $52.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, February 9th. Bank of America initiated coverage on shares of BCE in a report on Tuesday, November 21st. They set a “buy” rating and a $54.00 price objective for the company. Morgan Stanley lifted their price objective on shares of BCE from $60.00 to $62.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. Finally, Desjardins cut shares of BCE from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, January 12th. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, five have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $56.00.
BCE (NYSE:BCE) (TSE:BCE) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 8th. The utilities provider reported $0.60 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.59 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $5.96 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.96 billion. BCE had a net margin of 12.25% and a return on equity of 19.85%. The business’s revenue was up 4.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.76 earnings per share. sell-side analysts anticipate that BCE Inc. will post 2.74 EPS for the current fiscal year.
BCE declared that its board has authorized a stock repurchase program on Thursday, February 8th that permits the company to buyback $175.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the utilities provider to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Sunday, April 15th. Investors of record on Thursday, March 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.601 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 14th. This is a boost from BCE’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.56. This represents a $2.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 5.41%. BCE’s payout ratio is 95.83%.
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BCE Company Profile
BCE Inc is a communications company. The Company’s segments include Bell Wireless, Bell Wireline and Bell Media. Its Bell Wireless segment provides wireless voice and data communications products and services to its residential, small and medium-sized business and large enterprise customers across Canada.
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