Rockwell Automation (ROK) Lifted to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Wednesday morning. They currently have $194.00 price objective on the industrial products company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Backed by improving global macroeconomic conditions and strong order performance, Rockwell Automation anticipates sales growth of 5-8% for fiscal 2018. The company's EPS guidance is at $7.60-$7.90. The mid-point of the earnings guidance range depicts year-over-year growth of 15% reflecting the impact of lower tax rates and better-than-expected first-quarter performance. The company will benefit from growth in heavy industries vertical. Its priorities for capital allocation remain focused on organic investment, acquisitions and enhancing capital returns for shareholders. The company’s shares have outperformed the industry over the past six months.”

Several other analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. Goldman Sachs reiterated a neutral rating and issued a $193.00 price objective on shares of Rockwell Automation in a research note on Friday, December 8th. Daiwa Capital Markets started coverage on shares of Rockwell Automation in a research note on Wednesday, December 20th. They issued a neutral rating and a $199.00 price objective for the company. Stifel Nicolaus reiterated a hold rating and issued a $198.00 price objective on shares of Rockwell Automation in a research note on Monday, December 11th. Citigroup dropped their price objective on shares of Rockwell Automation from $214.00 to $209.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, January 25th. Finally, Wells Fargo lifted their price objective on shares of Rockwell Automation from $190.00 to $200.00 and gave the stock a market perform rating in a research note on Thursday, January 25th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $189.58.

Shares of Rockwell Automation stock opened at $168.96 on Wednesday. Rockwell Automation has a twelve month low of $148.31 and a twelve month high of $210.72. The company has a quick ratio of 1.73, a current ratio of 1.98 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. The stock has a market capitalization of $22,353.25, a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.99, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.97 and a beta of 1.26.

Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 24th. The industrial products company reported $1.96 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.74 by $0.22. Rockwell Automation had a net margin of 5.85% and a return on equity of 39.45%. The business had revenue of $1.59 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.60 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $1.75 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 6.5% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts expect that Rockwell Automation will post 7.8 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Rockwell Automation declared that its board has approved a stock repurchase plan on Wednesday, January 24th that permits the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the industrial products company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, March 12th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, February 20th were issued a $0.835 dividend. This represents a $3.34 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.98%. The ex-dividend date was Friday, February 16th. Rockwell Automation’s dividend payout ratio is currently 49.41%.

In other Rockwell Automation news, Director Keith D. Nosbusch sold 10,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, January 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $203.00, for a total value of $2,131,500.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 430,199 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $87,330,397. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, SVP Frank C. Kulaszewicz sold 43,100 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, February 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $177.68, for a total transaction of $7,658,008.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 35,338 shares in the company, valued at $6,278,855.84. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 123,627 shares of company stock worth $23,604,488. Insiders own 1.65% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Cerebellum GP LLC bought a new position in Rockwell Automation in the 4th quarter valued at about $130,000. Valeo Financial Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of Rockwell Automation during the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $131,000. Aries Wealth Management bought a new stake in shares of Rockwell Automation during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $209,000. Gofen & Glossberg LLC IL bought a new stake in shares of Rockwell Automation during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $202,000. Finally, Cpwm LLC bought a new stake in shares of Rockwell Automation during the 4th quarter valued at approximately $204,000. 73.21% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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Rockwell Automation Company Profile

Rockwell Automation Inc provides industrial automation and information solutions worldwide. It operates in two segments, Architecture & Software; and Control Products & Solutions. The Architecture & Software segment provides control platforms, including controllers, electronic operator interface devices, electronic input/output devices, communication and networking products, and industrial computers that perform multiple control disciplines and monitoring of applications, such as discrete, batch and continuous process, drives control, motion control, and machine safety control.

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