WestRock (WRK) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

WestRock (NYSE:WRK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research note issued on Saturday. The brokerage presently has a $74.00 target price on the basic materials company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price points to a potential upside of 18.12% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Despite commodity cost inflation, WestRock expects adjusted earnings per share in second-quarter to be higher than year-ago quarter’s adjusted EPS of 54 cents. Backed by industry conditions, positive volume and pricing dynamics, net sales growth is expected to rise 10% while adjusted segment EBITDA will grow 20%. The announced acquisition of rival, KapStone fits well with WestRock's existing operational footprint, should generate significant cost synergies and broaden WestRock's paper packaging product offering. The joint venture with Grupo Gondi has enhanced its ability to win share in the growing Mexican packaging market. Productivity and performance improvement programs, along with cost-saving actions remain tailwinds. WestRock outperformed the industry in the past year.”

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Several other analysts have also weighed in on the company. Citigroup decreased their price objective on WestRock from $83.00 to $80.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Thursday. ValuEngine lowered WestRock from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, March 7th. Barclays lifted their price objective on WestRock from $60.00 to $64.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a report on Monday, February 12th. Bank of America lifted their price objective on WestRock from $73.00 to $76.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Tuesday, January 30th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reissued a “buy” rating and set a $85.00 price objective on shares of WestRock in a report on Tuesday, January 30th. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eight have assigned a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $73.83.

Shares of NYSE:WRK traded down $1.80 during trading on Friday, hitting $62.65. 1,776,530 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,478,580. WestRock has a 1-year low of $49.23 and a 1-year high of $71.55. The firm has a market capitalization of $16,442.95, a PE ratio of 23.91, a PEG ratio of 1.26 and a beta of 1.37. The company has a current ratio of 1.28, a quick ratio of 0.74 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.47.

WestRock (NYSE:WRK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Monday, January 29th. The basic materials company reported $0.87 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.75 by $0.12. WestRock had a return on equity of 7.45% and a net margin of 11.51%. The company had revenue of $3.89 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.95 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $0.47 EPS. WestRock’s revenue for the quarter was up 13.0% compared to the same quarter last year. sell-side analysts predict that WestRock will post 3.99 EPS for the current year.

In related news, CEO Steven C. Voorhees sold 49,267 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, February 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total value of $3,202,355.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 700,051 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $45,503,315. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, insider James B. Porter sold 14,930 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, January 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.00, for a total value of $1,045,100.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 50,093 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,506,510. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders sold 454,649 shares of company stock worth $29,964,777. 2.68% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WRK. Magnetar Financial LLC bought a new position in WestRock in the 3rd quarter valued at $704,000. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. raised its position in WestRock by 1,273.0% in the 4th quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 63,336 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $4,003,000 after purchasing an additional 58,723 shares during the last quarter. Convergence Investment Partners LLC bought a new position in WestRock in the 4th quarter valued at $1,571,000. OLD Dominion Capital Management Inc. raised its position in WestRock by 18.0% in the 4th quarter. OLD Dominion Capital Management Inc. now owns 10,069 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $636,000 after purchasing an additional 1,535 shares during the last quarter. Finally, SG Americas Securities LLC raised its position in WestRock by 31.2% in the 4th quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC now owns 22,885 shares of the basic materials company’s stock valued at $1,447,000 after purchasing an additional 5,445 shares during the last quarter. 88.27% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About WestRock

WestRock Company manufactures and sells paper and packaging solutions for the consumer and corrugated markets in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The company operates through three segments: Corrugated Packaging, Consumer Packaging, and Land and Development. The Corrugated Packaging segment produces containerboards, corrugated sheets, corrugated packaging, and preprinted linerboards for consumer and industrial products manufacturers, and corrugated box manufacturers.

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