Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Thursday. The firm presently has a $88.00 target price on the retailer’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target suggests a potential upside of 2.65% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has been outperforming the industry on a year-to-date basis, as the company is pushing itself to understand the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters, on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavorable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. Nevertheless, the company makes efforts to offset these headwinds with its initiatives to boost sales. The recent move to consolidate its U.S. operations will simplify its business structure and facilitate communication as well as improve execution.”

WMT has been the subject of a number of other research reports. KeyCorp restated a “buy” rating and set a $90.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Tuesday, September 19th. Vetr downgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $80.69 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, June 19th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, June 20th. Jefferies Group LLC set a $88.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, July 17th. Finally, J P Morgan Chase & Co restated a “neutral” rating and set a $84.00 price objective (up previously from $80.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Friday, October 6th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have given a hold rating, fifteen have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $82.93.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE WMT) traded up 0.07% on Thursday, hitting $85.79. 2,301,401 shares of the company traded hands. Wal-Mart Stores has a 12 month low of $65.28 and a 12 month high of $86.29. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $79.62 and its 200-day moving average price is $77.38. The company has a market capitalization of $256.27 billion, a PE ratio of 20.61 and a beta of 0.29.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $123.40 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $121.86 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.60% and a return on equity of 16.87%. Wal-Mart Stores’s quarterly revenue was up 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.07 EPS. On average, equities analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.37 earnings per share for the current year.

Wal-Mart Stores announced that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, October 10th that permits the company to buyback $20.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the retailer to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

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In related news, major shareholder Jim C. Walton sold 775,958 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $80.24, for a total value of $62,262,869.92. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 10,507,224 shares in the company, valued at $843,099,653.76. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director S Robson Walton sold 2,117,863 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction on Friday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.45, for a total transaction of $166,146,352.35. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 3,344,956 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $262,411,798.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 9,924,828 shares of company stock worth $785,676,492 in the last quarter. Insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Hudock Capital Group LLC increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% in the second quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC now owns 1,847 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $139,000 after buying an additional 7 shares during the last quarter. Gemmer Asset Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the second quarter. Gemmer Asset Management LLC now owns 2,965 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $224,000 after buying an additional 10 shares during the last quarter. Wellington Shields & Co. LLC increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% in the first quarter. Wellington Shields & Co. LLC now owns 3,661 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $264,000 after buying an additional 15 shares during the last quarter. Sterneck Capital Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the first quarter. Sterneck Capital Management LLC now owns 6,588 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $475,000 after buying an additional 22 shares during the last quarter. Finally, LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.3% in the second quarter. LLBH Private Wealth Management LLC now owns 7,843 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $594,000 after buying an additional 24 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 30.19% of the company’s stock.

Wal-Mart Stores Company Profile

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes its mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart or Wal-Mart brands, as well as digital retail.

Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

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