Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Walmart, which recently dropped the “hyphen” and “stores” from its name to officially emerge as an omnichannel retailer, has surpassed the industry in a year. The company has been riding on its robust past record, which derives strength from constant e-commerce initiatives, like buyouts, alliances, surging grocery business and improved delivery systems. Thanks to these trends, along with solid traffic, Walmart’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 marked its ninth and 13th straight quarter of positive earnings surprise and comps growth, respectively. Also, the company’s international business remains a growth driver. However, costs associated with technological and e-commerce investments; mix impact from growing e-commerce operations and a compelling pricing strategy have been hurting Walmart’s gross margin for a while now. Stiff competition and volatile consumer spending also pose threats.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Citigroup upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and upped their price objective for the stock from $106.00 to $117.00 in a report on Tuesday, December 19th. Goldman Sachs Group upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, January 18th. Wells Fargo & Co set a $101.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Wednesday, December 27th. Wolfe Research upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from an “underperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, December 20th. Finally, Deutsche Bank set a $88.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, November 16th. Eighteen research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, sixteen have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $100.30.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) traded up $1.38 during trading hours on Tuesday, reaching $100.93. 3,391,502 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 8,808,105. The company has a market capitalization of $297,750.00, a PE ratio of 26.84, a PEG ratio of 3.55 and a beta of 0.42. Wal-Mart Stores has a 12-month low of $67.71 and a 12-month high of $109.98. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52, a current ratio of 0.81 and a quick ratio of 0.19.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 16th. The retailer reported $1.00 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $122.14 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $120.23 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.31% and a return on equity of 16.92%. Wal-Mart Stores’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.98 earnings per share. equities analysts anticipate that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.44 earnings per share for the current year.

In other news, insider Jacqueline P. Canney sold 2,065 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, December 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $96.99, for a total transaction of $200,284.35. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 19,060 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,848,629.40. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director S Robson Walton sold 826,617 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $96.39, for a total transaction of $79,677,612.63. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 3,345,065 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $322,430,815.35. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 12,419,588 shares of company stock valued at $1,207,333,538 over the last 90 days. Corporate insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Pinnacle Wealth Planning Services Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at about $105,000. Lenox Wealth Advisors Inc. raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 13,287.5% during the fourth quarter. Lenox Wealth Advisors Inc. now owns 1,071 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $106,000 after buying an additional 1,063 shares during the last quarter. Cerebellum GP LLC acquired a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at about $127,000. Financial Gravity Companies Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at about $139,000. Finally, Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 456.9% during the second quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. now owns 1,526 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $115,000 after buying an additional 1,252 shares during the last quarter. 30.45% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Wal-Mart Stores Company Profile

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

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