Hormel (HRL) Short Interest Up 10.2% in February

Hormel (NYSE:HRL) was the target of a significant increase in short interest during the month of February. As of February 28th, there was short interest totalling 34,233,986 shares, an increase of 10.2% from the February 15th total of 31,066,435 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 3,467,605 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 9.9 days. Approximately 12.8% of the company’s shares are sold short.

HRL stock traded down $0.18 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $34.93. The stock had a trading volume of 3,524,286 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,021,656. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.12, a current ratio of 1.47 and a quick ratio of 0.74. Hormel has a 1-year low of $29.75 and a 1-year high of $38.00. The firm has a market cap of $18,593.73, a P/E ratio of 22.25, a PEG ratio of 2.18 and a beta of 0.44.

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Hormel (NYSE:HRL) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, February 22nd. The company reported $0.44 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.44. Hormel had a return on equity of 17.44% and a net margin of 9.92%. The company had revenue of $2.33 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.43 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.44 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts expect that Hormel will post 1.73 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, May 15th. Shareholders of record on Monday, April 16th will be given a $0.1875 dividend. This represents a $0.75 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.15%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, April 13th. Hormel’s payout ratio is currently 47.77%.

In other news, Director Glenn S. Forbes sold 4,492 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $33.71, for a total transaction of $151,425.32. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 50,326 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,696,489.46. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Steven G. Binder sold 20,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, March 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $33.40, for a total value of $668,000.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 31,964 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,067,597.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 205,492 shares of company stock valued at $7,011,105. 3.54% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of HRL. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Hormel by 3,639.3% in the 4th quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,421,969 shares of the company’s stock worth $88,136,000 after purchasing an additional 2,357,198 shares during the last quarter. Capital International Investors increased its position in Hormel by 28.4% in the 3rd quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 10,634,975 shares of the company’s stock worth $341,808,000 after purchasing an additional 2,350,000 shares during the last quarter. Valueinvest Asset Management S.A. increased its holdings in shares of Hormel by 29.2% during the 3rd quarter. Valueinvest Asset Management S.A. now owns 6,915,500 shares of the company’s stock valued at $222,264,000 after acquiring an additional 1,563,700 shares during the last quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Hormel by 264.7% during the 3rd quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 1,505,505 shares of the company’s stock valued at $48,387,000 after acquiring an additional 1,092,714 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Hormel during the 4th quarter valued at about $20,735,000. 39.35% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Several research firms recently weighed in on HRL. Zacks Investment Research raised Hormel from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $37.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Monday, March 26th. Credit Suisse Group dropped their price target on Hormel from $36.00 to $33.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, February 27th. Piper Jaffray reissued a “buy” rating and set a $39.00 price target on shares of Hormel in a research report on Tuesday, February 27th. Barclays reissued a “buy” rating and set a $38.00 price target (down from $40.00) on shares of Hormel in a research report on Friday, February 23rd. Finally, Jefferies Group reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Hormel in a research report on Thursday, February 22nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the company. Hormel presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $34.60.

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About Hormel

Hormel Foods Corporation produces and markets various meat and food products in the United States and internationally. The company operates through five segments: Grocery Products, Refrigerated Foods, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Specialty Foods, and International & Other. It offers various perishable meat products, including fresh meats, frozen items, refrigerated meal solutions, sausages, hams, guacamole, and bacon; and shelf-stable products, such as canned luncheon meats, peanut butter, chilies, shelf-stable microwaveable meals, hash, stews, meat spreads, flour and corn tortillas, salsas, tortilla chips, and other products.

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