Willis Towers Watson PLC (WLTW) Sees Large Decrease in Short Interest

Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW) was the recipient of a significant drop in short interest during the month of February. As of February 28th, there was short interest totalling 1,080,101 shares, a drop of 30.7% from the February 15th total of 1,558,270 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 745,154 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 1.4 days. Approximately 0.8% of the company’s stock are sold short.

A number of equities analysts recently weighed in on WLTW shares. Goldman Sachs Group upgraded shares of Willis Towers Watson from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and boosted their price objective for the stock from $163.00 to $179.00 in a report on Tuesday, January 8th. Credit Suisse Group restated an “outperform” rating and issued a $178.00 price objective (up from $166.00) on shares of Willis Towers Watson in a report on Thursday, December 20th. William Blair restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Willis Towers Watson in a report on Thursday, February 7th. Deutsche Bank upgraded shares of Willis Towers Watson from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and boosted their price objective for the stock from $149.00 to $164.00 in a report on Thursday, February 7th. Finally, BidaskClub lowered shares of Willis Towers Watson from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, February 14th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating, nine have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $175.17.

Shares of WLTW opened at $172.25 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $22.04 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.70, a P/E/G ratio of 1.29 and a beta of 0.80. The company has a quick ratio of 1.86, a current ratio of 1.86 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44. Willis Towers Watson has a 1-year low of $134.50 and a 1-year high of $187.91.

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, February 7th. The financial services provider reported $4.00 earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $4.06 by ($0.06). The company had revenue of $2.37 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.38 billion. Willis Towers Watson had a net margin of 8.16% and a return on equity of 12.44%. Willis Towers Watson’s quarterly revenue was up 10.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $2.21 earnings per share. Sell-side analysts expect that Willis Towers Watson will post 10.69 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, April 15th. Shareholders of record on Sunday, March 31st will be paid a dividend of $0.65 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 28th. This is a positive change from Willis Towers Watson’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.60. This represents a $2.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.51%. Willis Towers Watson’s payout ratio is currently 24.67%.

In related news, insider Adam Garrard sold 3,517 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $171.71, for a total value of $603,904.07. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 5,542 shares in the company, valued at approximately $951,616.82. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Joseph Gunn sold 2,042 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $168.30, for a total transaction of $343,668.60. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 17,264 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,905,531.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.50% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WLTW. Capital International Investors purchased a new stake in Willis Towers Watson during the 3rd quarter valued at $333,788,000. FMR LLC grew its position in shares of Willis Towers Watson by 3,131.7% during the 4th quarter. FMR LLC now owns 2,241,482 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $340,391,000 after acquiring an additional 2,172,123 shares during the period. Norges Bank bought a new stake in shares of Willis Towers Watson during the 4th quarter valued at $180,079,000. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of Willis Towers Watson by 6.1% during the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 8,575,226 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $1,302,233,000 after acquiring an additional 489,781 shares during the period. Finally, Capital World Investors bought a new stake in shares of Willis Towers Watson during the 3rd quarter valued at $41,042,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 92.18% of the company’s stock.

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About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company operates as an advisory, broking, and solutions company worldwide. Its Human Capital and Benefits segment provides actuarial support, plan design, and administrative services for traditional pension and retirement savings plans; plan management consulting, broking, and administration services for health and group benefit programs; and benefits outsourcing services.

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