Waste Connections, Inc. (NYSE:WCN) Cut to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Waste Connections, Inc. (NYSE:WCN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Monday, October 16th.

According to Zacks, “Waste Connections has outperformed the industry year to date. With prime location of disposal sites within competitive markets, Waste Connections has optimal asset positioning to generate higher profitability. Its merger with Progressive Waste Solutions is expected to generate about $50 million in annualized SG&A cost savings within the first 12 months after closing. An experienced management team and decentralized operations remain additional tailwinds. However, seasonal factors and stiff competition remain headwinds. The volatility in crude oil prices is expected to impair the profitability and creditworthiness of Waste Connections and adversely affect the level of investment and linear feet drilled in the basins where it operates. In addition, the industry is subject to regular enactment of new or amended federal, state and local statutes and regulations that further impose substantial capital and operational limitations.”

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Royal Bank Of Canada lifted their price objective on shares of Waste Connections from $68.00 to $74.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Friday, June 23rd. Barclays PLC boosted their price target on shares of Waste Connections from $70.00 to $76.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research report on Monday, August 7th. Stifel Nicolaus reiterated a buy rating and issued a $75.00 price target on shares of Waste Connections in a research report on Tuesday, August 29th. BidaskClub cut shares of Waste Connections from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Thursday, August 3rd. Finally, Raymond James Financial, Inc. lifted their price target on Waste Connections from $74.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock a strong-buy rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eight have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $75.61.

Shares of Waste Connections (WCN) opened at 71.87 on Monday. Waste Connections has a 52-week low of $48.78 and a 52-week high of $72.67. The firm has a market cap of $18.93 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 61.11 and a beta of 0.23. The company’s 50-day moving average is $69.56 and its 200 day moving average is $65.06.

Waste Connections (NYSE:WCN) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 25th. The business services provider reported $0.60 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.57 by $0.03. Waste Connections had a net margin of 7.68% and a return on equity of 9.59%. The business had revenue of $1.21 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.19 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.72 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 11.2% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts expect that Waste Connections will post $2.12 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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Waste Connections declared that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program on Wednesday, August 2nd that allows the company to buyback 13,180,000 shares. This buyback authorization allows the business services provider to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 22nd. Investors of record on Wednesday, November 8th will be issued a $0.14 dividend. This is a positive change from Waste Connections’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.12. This represents a $0.56 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.78%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, November 7th. Waste Connections’s payout ratio is 36.36%.

In related news, Director Edward E. Guillet sold 11,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.27, for a total value of $750,605.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, insider James Little sold 3,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.81, for a total value of $194,430.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 39,500 shares of company stock valued at $2,571,285. Corporate insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in Waste Connections by 55.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 22,501,128 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $1,449,523,000 after acquiring an additional 8,068,453 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its position in Waste Connections by 59.4% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 11,757,442 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $757,414,000 after acquiring an additional 4,380,232 shares during the period. Royal Bank of Canada grew its position in Waste Connections by 59.9% in the second quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 10,043,896 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $647,028,000 after acquiring an additional 3,762,212 shares during the period. Wells Fargo & Company MN grew its position in Waste Connections by 36.9% in the second quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 7,286,764 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $469,413,000 after acquiring an additional 1,965,851 shares during the period. Finally, Maverick Capital Ltd. grew its position in Waste Connections by 8.3% in the second quarter. Maverick Capital Ltd. now owns 5,537,682 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $356,737,000 after acquiring an additional 426,642 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 82.63% of the company’s stock.

About Waste Connections

Waste Connections, Inc is a solid waste services company in North America. The Company provides waste collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in markets in the United States and Canada. The Company operates through six segments: Southern segment, Western segment, Eastern segment, Canada segment, Central segment and E&P segment.

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