Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) Upgraded to “Buy” by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday, Zacks.com reports. They currently have $240.00 price objective on the business services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Moody's have outperformed the industry so far this year. The company’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. Its third-quarter 2019 results benefited from growth in revenues, partly offset by higher costs. The company remains well-positioned on the back of its dominant position in the credit rating industry. Moreover, its diverse revenue base and strong balance sheet position are impressive. Further, continued strategic acquisitions and stake buying are expected to support financials in the quarters ahead. However, slowdown in global bond issuance volumes and elevated expenses due to the company's investments in franchise are likely to hurt profitability. Moreover, the divestiture of the Analytics Knowledge Services business is expected to be dilutive to 2019 GAAP earnings.”

Other equities analysts have also issued research reports about the company. ValuEngine lowered Moody’s from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 2nd. Argus boosted their target price on Moody’s to $240.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Monday, August 5th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. upped their price target on shares of Moody’s from $220.00 to $240.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research report on Thursday, August 1st. Morgan Stanley upped their price target on shares of Moody’s from $176.00 to $181.00 and gave the company an underweight rating in a research report on Thursday, October 31st. Finally, William Blair reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of Moody’s in a research report on Thursday, October 31st. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company. Moody’s has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $215.73.

NYSE:MCO traded up $0.23 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, reaching $224.14. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 672,417 shares, compared to its average volume of 854,520. Moody’s has a 12-month low of $129.26 and a 12-month high of $226.74. The firm’s fifty day moving average price is $215.00 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $205.19. The company has a current ratio of 1.42, a quick ratio of 1.42 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 7.50. The stock has a market cap of $42.27 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.33, a PEG ratio of 2.69 and a beta of 1.24.

Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, October 30th. The business services provider reported $2.15 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.99 by $0.16. Moody’s had a return on equity of 270.17% and a net margin of 28.20%. The business had revenue of $1.24 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.18 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.69 EPS. Moody’s’s revenue was up 14.8% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts predict that Moody’s will post 8.18 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, December 12th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, November 21st will be given a dividend of $0.50 per share. This represents a $2.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.89%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, November 20th. Moody’s’s payout ratio is currently 27.06%.

In related news, EVP John J. Goggins sold 20,784 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $218.06, for a total transaction of $4,532,159.04. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 86,543 shares in the company, valued at approximately $18,871,566.58. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, insider Robert Fauber sold 3,721 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $216.26, for a total value of $804,703.46. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 49,591 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $10,724,549.66. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.90% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Morgan Stanley grew its stake in shares of Moody’s by 14.9% during the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 2,115,215 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $413,121,000 after acquiring an additional 274,515 shares during the period. Investec Asset Management LTD grew its stake in shares of Moody’s by 1.1% during the 2nd quarter. Investec Asset Management LTD now owns 2,044,170 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $399,247,000 after acquiring an additional 21,396 shares during the period. Northern Trust Corp grew its stake in shares of Moody’s by 6.7% during the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,936,572 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $378,232,000 after acquiring an additional 121,443 shares during the period. Windacre Partnership LLC grew its stake in shares of Moody’s by 10.1% during the 2nd quarter. Windacre Partnership LLC now owns 1,642,000 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $320,699,000 after acquiring an additional 150,800 shares during the period. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp grew its stake in shares of Moody’s by 0.3% during the 2nd quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 1,346,417 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $262,969,000 after acquiring an additional 3,828 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 89.60% of the company’s stock.

About Moody’s

Moody's Corporation provides credit ratings; and credit, capital markets, and economic research, data, and analytical tools worldwide. It operates through two segments, Moody's Investors Service and Moody's Analytics. The Moody's Investors Service segment publishes credit ratings on various debt obligations and entities that issue such obligations, such as various corporate and governmental obligations, structured finance securities, and commercial paper programs.

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