Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) Lifted to Hold at Zacks Investment Research
Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Monday.
According to Zacks, “Whole Foods is revamping its pricing strategy and concentrating on value offerings. Moreover, it has launched a new store concept to target millennials and stave off competition that has been weighing upon its performance. More and more companies are entering as well as expanding their presence in the Organic & Natural food business. This may dent the company’s sales and margins. Whole Foods saw its comps declining for the fourth straight quarter. Comps fell 2.6% in third-quarter fiscal 2016 and 2.4% during the first three weeks of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the company is trying to spur sales through store openings, adoption of digital route and home delivery services. Sales rose 2% and also beat the estimate during the third quarter. Management projects sales growth of about 2% but comps decline of 2.4% in the fourth quarter. The company envisions earnings per share in the band of $0.23-$0.24 for the final quarter.”
A number of other brokerages have also recently issued reports on WFM. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research note on Tuesday, July 12th. Wedbush reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $32.00 price target (up previously from $29.00) on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research note on Friday, June 17th. Macquarie upgraded shares of Whole Foods Market from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating in a research note on Monday, July 25th. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. reiterated an “outperform” rating and issued a $38.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research note on Tuesday, August 16th. Finally, Northcoast Research cut shares of Whole Foods Market from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $24.00 price target on the stock. in a research note on Wednesday, June 15th. Seven research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have issued a hold rating, five have assigned a buy rating and three have issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $30.28.
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) traded down 0.9852% during trading on Monday, hitting $28.0707. 2,032,903 shares of the stock traded hands. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $29.56 and a 200 day moving average price of $31.07. The company has a market cap of $8.95 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.9083 and a beta of 0.82. Whole Foods Market has a 52-week low of $27.67 and a 52-week high of $35.58.
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.37 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.37. The company had revenue of $3.70 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.73 billion. Whole Foods Market had a net margin of 3.03% and a return on equity of 15.55%. Whole Foods Market’s revenue was up 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $0.43 EPS. On average, equities analysts expect that Whole Foods Market will post $1.51 EPS for the current year.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Shareholders of record on Monday, October 3rd will be paid a $0.135 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 29th. This represents a $0.54 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.90%. Whole Foods Market’s payout ratio is 37.76%.
In other Whole Foods Market news, Director Shahid M. Hassan sold 7,916 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, September 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $28.41, for a total value of $224,893.56. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. 1.09% of the stock is owned by company insiders.
Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in WFM. BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 6.2% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 5,345,333 shares of the company’s stock valued at $171,158,000 after buying an additional 314,346 shares in the last quarter. Sustainable Growth Advisers LP raised its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 22.0% in the second quarter. Sustainable Growth Advisers LP now owns 4,595,810 shares of the company’s stock valued at $147,158,000 after buying an additional 828,443 shares in the last quarter. Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. raised its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 14.9% in the second quarter. Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. now owns 3,586,937 shares of the company’s stock valued at $114,854,000 after buying an additional 466,437 shares in the last quarter. Parnassus Investments CA raised its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 1.5% in the second quarter. Parnassus Investments CA now owns 3,300,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $105,666,000 after buying an additional 50,000 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Group LTD raised its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 0.7% in the second quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 3,000,400 shares of the company’s stock valued at $96,073,000 after buying an additional 20,749 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 86.38% of the company’s stock.
About Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market, Inc is engaged in operating natural and organic foods supermarkets. The Company’s brands include Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Engine 2 Plant-Strong. As of April 10, 2016, the Company operated 441 stores, which include 421 stores in 42 states in the United States and the District of Columbia, 11 stores in Canada, and 9 stores in the United Kingdom.
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