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

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Wednesday, December 20th.

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. “

A number of other research firms have also issued reports on UNF. Northcoast Research reissued a neutral rating on shares of UniFirst in a research report on Thursday, October 19th. Robert W. Baird lifted their target price on shares of UniFirst from $163.00 to $171.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a 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 given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $180.00.

UniFirst (NYSE UNF) traded down $0.35 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, reaching $171.15. 42,322 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 70,109. The stock has a market cap of $3,479.56, a P/E ratio of 46.01, a PEG ratio of 3.17 and a beta of 0.74. UniFirst has a 52 week low of $124.85 and a 52 week high of $176.15.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last released its quarterly earnings results 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 business had revenue of $415.80 million for 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 company’s revenue was up 7.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.38 EPS. analysts expect that UniFirst will post 5.41 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 30th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 9th will be paid 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 yield of 0.09%. UniFirst’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 4.03%.

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

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. State Street Corp increased its stake in shares of UniFirst by 4.4% during the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 376,860 shares of the textile maker’s stock worth $53,020,000 after buying an additional 15,909 shares during the period. Prudential Financial Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 2.7% in the third quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 27,328 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $4,140,000 after acquiring an additional 710 shares during the period. PEAK6 Investments L.P. boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 42.3% in the third quarter. PEAK6 Investments L.P. now owns 2,579 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $391,000 after acquiring an additional 767 shares during the period. Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 5.3% in the third quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 586,882 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $88,912,000 after acquiring an additional 29,575 shares during the period. Finally, BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 52.0% in the second quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 5,778 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $813,000 after acquiring an additional 1,977 shares during the period. 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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