Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Sell”

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published on Monday morning, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has $53.00 target price on the pharmacy operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Walgreens Boots' Retail Pharmacy USA division is witnessing comparable prescription growth and benefitting from a strong retail prescription market. The company is working to address select areas of operational weakness and is strengthening and refocusing its operational management to ensure the increased focus on driving operational excellence. On the flip side, Walgreens Boots expects the pharmacy trends which are impacting the overall market, are likely to continue to do so over the coming months. Accordingly, it has lowered fiscal 2019 adjusted EPS growth projections. Walgreens Boots reported poor fiscal second-quarter results largely due to turbulence in the U.S. and UK consumer markets, low generic deflation, brand inflation and increased reimbursement pressure. Over the past three months, the stock has underperformed the industry.”

WBA has been the subject of a number of other reports. BidaskClub raised shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, February 14th. Robert W. Baird lowered their price objective on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $70.00 to $67.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Friday, March 1st. ValuEngine lowered shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Friday, March 1st. UBS Group lowered their price objective on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $70.00 to $65.00 and set a sell rating for the company in a research note on Monday, March 4th. Finally, Morgan Stanley lowered their price objective on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $77.00 to $67.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a research note on Tuesday, March 5th. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $64.89.

NASDAQ WBA opened at $52.89 on Monday. The company has a current ratio of 0.78, a quick ratio of 0.38 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.50. The stock has a market capitalization of $48.35 billion, a PE ratio of 8.79, a P/E/G ratio of 1.08 and a beta of 0.77. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a 12 month low of $49.31 and a 12 month high of $86.31.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 2nd. The pharmacy operator reported $1.64 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.70 by ($0.06). The company had revenue of $34.53 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $34.57 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a return on equity of 22.00% and a net margin of 3.77%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.73 earnings per share. As a group, equities research analysts anticipate that Walgreens Boots Alliance will post 5.99 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, June 12th. Shareholders of record on Monday, May 20th were given a dividend of $0.44 per share. This represents a $1.76 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.33%. The ex-dividend date was Friday, May 17th. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s payout ratio is 29.24%.

In related news, CAO Marco Patrick Anthony Pagni sold 20,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $53.05, for a total value of $1,061,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief accounting officer now directly owns 435,811 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $23,119,773.55. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, COO Ornella Barra acquired 18,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, April 3rd. The stock was bought at an average cost of $54.56 per share, with a total value of $982,080.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief operating officer now directly owns 26,425 shares in the company, valued at $1,441,748. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Corporate insiders own 15.73% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in WBA. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund raised its position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 12,422.1% in the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 34,807,507 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $509,000 after purchasing an additional 34,529,539 shares during the last quarter. Norges Bank purchased a new position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in the 4th quarter valued at approximately $589,781,000. Boston Partners raised its position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 3,449.3% in the 4th quarter. Boston Partners now owns 3,973,944 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $271,540,000 after purchasing an additional 3,861,981 shares during the last quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company raised its position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 263.4% in the 1st quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company now owns 3,306,439 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $209,198,000 after purchasing an additional 2,396,640 shares during the last quarter. Finally, APG Asset Management N.V. raised its position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 66.2% in the 4th quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 3,740,281 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $223,569,000 after purchasing an additional 1,489,401 shares during the last quarter. 61.60% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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 retail products, including health, beauty, personal care, consumable, and general merchandise products through its retail drugstores and convenient care clinics.

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