Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) Rating Increased to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Wednesday, October 18th. They currently have $96.00 price objective on the retailer’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has outperformed the industry in the past one year, as the company is pushing itself to understand the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters; while on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. The company therefore expects sales to rise approximately 3% during fiscal 2019, backed by the sustained growth in comps and e-commerce. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavorable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. Nevertheless, the company makes efforts to offset these headwinds with its initiatives to boost sales.”

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. Citigroup Inc. increased their price objective on Wal-Mart Stores from $78.00 to $80.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 15th. Wells Fargo & Company reissued a hold rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Thursday, August 17th. Credit Suisse Group reissued a hold rating and issued a $84.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Friday, August 18th. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a buy rating and issued a $75.54 target price (down from $88.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Thursday, June 22nd. Finally, Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reissued a buy rating and issued a $90.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Friday, August 18th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have issued a hold rating, fifteen have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $84.77.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE WMT) traded down 0.97% during trading on Wednesday, reaching $87.76. 2,154,156 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. Wal-Mart Stores has a 52-week low of $65.28 and a 52-week high of $88.92. The firm has a market cap of $262.16 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.09 and a beta of 0.29. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $81.89 and its 200 day moving average price is $78.50.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.87% and a net margin of 2.60%. The firm had revenue of $123.40 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $121.86 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.07 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts anticipate that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.37 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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Wal-Mart Stores declared that its board has initiated a share buyback plan on Tuesday, October 10th that allows the company to buyback $20.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the retailer to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In other Wal-Mart Stores news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 474,042 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $80.04, for a total value of $37,942,321.68. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 10,048,580 shares in the company, valued at approximately $804,288,343.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 2,000,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.47, for a total value of $158,940,000.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 6,748,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $536,309,652.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 9,924,828 shares of company stock valued at $785,676,492. 51.39% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the business. Hudock Capital Group LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC now owns 1,847 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $139,000 after buying an additional 7 shares during the period. Gemmer Asset Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. Gemmer Asset Management LLC now owns 2,965 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $224,000 after buying an additional 10 shares during the period. Wellington Shields & Co. LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% in the 1st quarter. Wellington Shields & Co. LLC now owns 3,661 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $264,000 after buying an additional 15 shares during the period. Sterneck Capital Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the 1st quarter. Sterneck Capital Management LLC now owns 6,588 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $475,000 after buying an additional 22 shares during the period. Finally, LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC now owns 7,843 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $594,000 after buying an additional 24 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 30.16% of the company’s stock.

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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