UniFirst (UNF) Downgraded to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Tuesday.

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. “

Several other research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Robert W. Baird reissued a buy rating and set a $183.00 price target on shares of UniFirst in a report on Thursday, March 29th. Barrington Research reissued a hold rating on shares of UniFirst in a report on Thursday, March 29th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $198.00.

NYSE UNF opened at $185.50 on Tuesday. The stock has a market cap of $3.68 billion, a P/E ratio of 35.11, a PEG ratio of 2.91 and a beta of 0.61. UniFirst has a 52-week low of $135.95 and a 52-week high of $193.05.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, June 27th. The textile maker reported $1.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.56 by $0.02. The firm had revenue of $427.38 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $420.45 million. UniFirst had a net margin of 7.45% and a return on equity of 8.21%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.3% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.19 earnings per share. analysts predict that UniFirst will post 6.23 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 28th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 7th will be issued a $0.1125 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 6th. This represents a $0.45 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.24%. UniFirst’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 8.52%.

In other UniFirst news, VP David A. Difillippo sold 1,046 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, April 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $161.70, for a total value of $169,138.20. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 7,068 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,142,895.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, insider Steven S. Sintros sold 919 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $181.75, for a total transaction of $167,028.25. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 5,690 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,034,157.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 2,867 shares of company stock valued at $491,897. 1.00% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. Great Lakes Advisors LLC increased its holdings in UniFirst by 38.1% in the first quarter. Great Lakes Advisors LLC now owns 35,447 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $5,730,000 after buying an additional 9,772 shares in the last quarter. Millennium Management LLC increased its holdings in UniFirst by 492.4% in the fourth quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 38,660 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $6,375,000 after buying an additional 32,134 shares in the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its holdings in UniFirst by 13.0% in the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 116,508 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $19,212,000 after buying an additional 13,379 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in UniFirst by 3.2% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 1,948,654 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $321,334,000 after buying an additional 60,478 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. increased its holdings in UniFirst by 14.1% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 29,488 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $4,767,000 after buying an additional 3,640 shares in the last quarter. 71.78% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About UniFirst

UniFirst Corporation provides workplace uniforms and protective work wear clothing in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It operates through US Rental and Cleaning, Canadian Rental and Cleaning, Manufacturing, Specialty Garments Rental and Cleaning, and First Aid segments. 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, and aprons; and specialized protective wear, such as flame resistant and high visibility garments.

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