UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Tuesday, December 26th. The firm currently has $189.00 price objective on the textile maker’s stock.

According to Zacks, “UniFirst Corporation has become an industry leader and remains one of the fastest growing companies in the Uniform and Textile Services business. Its business is the rental Lease and Sale of work clothing, uniforms, protective apparel, careerwear, and facility service products to businesses in virtually all industrial categories. The major portion of the Company’s business is Uniform Rental Service Programs, wherein it provides customers with all necessary products plus weekly cleaning, maintenance, and any needed replacements of work clothing. The Company became the first private industrial launderer to be granted a government license to process nuclear-contaminated garments. The Company has developed a separate division, UniTech Services Group, which now includes specialized plants throughout the United States and in Europe. UniFirst is a national leader in cleaning and decontaminating the garments worn by workers who maintain and refuel nuclear power and nuclear processing equipment. “

UNF has been the topic of several other research reports. Northcoast Research reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of UniFirst in a research report on Thursday, October 19th. Robert W. Baird increased their price target on shares of UniFirst from $163.00 to $171.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research report on Thursday, October 19th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. UniFirst presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $180.00.

Shares of UniFirst (NYSE UNF) opened at $171.50 on Tuesday. UniFirst has a 12-month low of $124.85 and a 12-month high of $176.15. The firm has a market cap of $3,480.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 45.86, a P/E/G ratio of 3.17 and a beta of 0.74.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 3rd. The textile maker reported $1.60 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.41 by $0.19. The company had revenue of $415.80 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $404.60 million. UniFirst had a net margin of 4.69% and a return on equity of 7.72%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 7.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.38 EPS. analysts predict that UniFirst will post 5.41 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 30th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 9th will be given a dividend of $0.0375 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 8th. This represents a $0.15 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.09%. UniFirst’s payout ratio is 4.01%.

In related news, VP David Martin Katz sold 1,060 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, December 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $168.15, for a total transaction of $178,239.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 2,667 shares in the company, valued at $448,456.05. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, VP Michael A. Croatti sold 1,216 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, December 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $168.99, for a total transaction of $205,491.84. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 3,375 shares in the company, valued at approximately $570,341.25. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 2,401 shares of company stock worth $405,193 in the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Riverhead Capital Management LLC increased its stake in shares of UniFirst by 83.2% in the second quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 1,099 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $155,000 after purchasing an additional 499 shares during the period. Sei Investments Co. boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 26,600.0% in the third quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 1,068 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $162,000 after acquiring an additional 1,064 shares in the last quarter. Shelton Capital Management bought a new position in shares of UniFirst in the second quarter valued at approximately $216,000. Amalgamated Bank boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 2.0% in the second quarter. Amalgamated Bank now owns 2,086 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $294,000 after acquiring an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Eaton Vance Management bought a new position in shares of UniFirst in the second quarter valued at approximately $300,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.07% of the company’s stock.

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About UniFirst

UniFirst Corporation is a provider of workplace uniforms and protective work wear clothing in the United States. The Company designs, manufactures, personalizes, rents, cleans, delivers, and sells a range of uniforms and protective clothing, including shirts, pants, jackets, coveralls, lab coats, smocks, aprons and specialized protective wear, such as flame resistant and high visibility garments.

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