Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Saturday. The brokerage currently has a $79.00 price target on the pharmacy operator’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 7.48% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Walgreens Boots reported mixed fourth-quarter results with earnings beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate but revenues missing the mark. Overall, Retail Pharmacy USA division witnessed comparable prescription growth and benefited from a strong retail prescription market. Meanwhile, low prescription volume and continuing government reimbursement pressure in the United Kingdom, have been leading to sluggishness in Retail Pharmacy International division. However, solid pharmacy sales growth encourages us reflecting synergies from Rite Aid store addition. The company has been gaining on account of strategic tie-ups. We are looking forward to Walgreens Boots’ alliance with Express Scripts and Kroger aiming to expand its existing group purchasing efforts and product offerings respectively. Yet, the ongoing generic drug inflation is hurting Walgreens' pharmacy margin. Walgreens Boots faces tough competition along with currency fluctuations.”

A number of other equities analysts have also recently weighed in on WBA. BidaskClub raised shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Saturday, June 16th. Bank of America cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating and lowered their price objective for the stock from $73.00 to $60.00 in a research report on Thursday, June 28th. Robert W. Baird cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $80.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Friday, June 29th. Jefferies Financial Group cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and lowered their price objective for the stock from $85.00 to $65.00 in a research report on Friday, June 29th. Finally, Loop Capital increased their price objective on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance to $80.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, June 29th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating, seven have given a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the company. Walgreens Boots Alliance currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $77.56.

Shares of NASDAQ:WBA traded up $2.60 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $73.50. 9,645,179 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 6,227,956. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44, a quick ratio of 0.47 and a current ratio of 0.93. The stock has a market capitalization of $72.35 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.41, a PEG ratio of 1.11 and a beta of 1.04. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a 1 year low of $59.07 and a 1 year high of $80.68.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 11th. The pharmacy operator reported $1.48 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.45 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $33.44 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $33.64 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a net margin of 3.36% and a return on equity of 21.22%. Research analysts forecast that Walgreens Boots Alliance will post 5.98 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, insider Stefano Pessina acquired 1,697,438 shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 16th. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $63.92 per share, for a total transaction of $108,500,236.96. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, COO Ornella Barra acquired 1,700,000 shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 16th. The stock was purchased at an average price of $65.15 per share, for a total transaction of $110,755,000.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Company insiders own 14.80% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WBA. Sei Investments Co. raised its stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 100.9% during the 2nd quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 349,451 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $20,970,000 after acquiring an additional 175,551 shares in the last quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System raised its stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 7.7% during the 2nd quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 2,303,917 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $138,270,000 after acquiring an additional 165,048 shares in the last quarter. Bridgewater Associates LP raised its stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 109.1% during the 2nd quarter. Bridgewater Associates LP now owns 657,649 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $39,469,000 after acquiring an additional 343,062 shares in the last quarter. Schaller Investment Group Inc. acquired a new stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance during the 2nd quarter worth $9,152,000. Finally, Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. raised its stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 4.4% during the 2nd quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 3,563,249 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $213,849,000 after acquiring an additional 150,763 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.92% of the company’s stock.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Company Profile

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc operates as a pharmacy-led health and wellbeing company. It operates through three segments: Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International, and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. The Retail Pharmacy USA segment sells prescription drugs and an assortment of general merchandise, including non-prescription drugs, beauty products, photo finishing, seasonal merchandise, greeting cards, and convenience foods through its retail drugstores and convenient care clinics.

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