Washington Federal Inc. (NASDAQ:WAFD) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Tuesday. The firm currently has a $32.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price target would indicate a potential upside of 10.15% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Washington Federal’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 (ended Sep 30) earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Growth in other income, provision reversal and lower operating expenses were partially offset by a fall in net interest income. Persistent improvement in loan balances is expected to fuel organic growth going forward. Further, with continued economic recovery, asset quality exhibits improving trend. Also, the company continues to boost shareholders’ value through steady capital deployment activities. However, elevated expense levels continue to hamper bottom-line expansion. Also, margin pressure and exposure to risky loan portfolios would limit significant improvement in the company's financials in the near term.”

Washington Federal (NASDAQ:WAFD) opened at 29.05 on Tuesday. The firm has a market cap of $2.61 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.32 and a beta of 1.07. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $26.98 and its 200 day moving average price is $25.49. Washington Federal has a 52-week low of $19.10 and a 52-week high of $29.20.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 18th. Investors of record on Friday, November 4th will be paid a dividend of $0.14 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, November 2nd. This represents a $0.56 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.93%. Washington Federal’s dividend payout ratio is currently 31.28%.

In other Washington Federal news, CEO Roy M. Whitehead sold 11,530 shares of Washington Federal stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.04, for a total transaction of $311,771.20. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 415,345 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $11,230,928.80. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Brent J. Beardall sold 30,000 shares of Washington Federal stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.78, for a total value of $833,400.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 186,242 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,173,802.76. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.58% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. raised its stake in shares of Washington Federal by 7.5% in the third quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 4,945 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 345 shares during the period. US Bancorp DE raised its stake in shares of Washington Federal by 2.4% in the third quarter. US Bancorp DE now owns 4,971 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 115 shares during the period. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of Washington Federal by 77.2% in the second quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,180 shares of the company’s stock valued at $126,000 after buying an additional 2,256 shares during the period. LS Investment Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of Washington Federal by 75.8% in the second quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 5,426 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 2,339 shares during the period. Finally, Quantbot Technologies LP purchased a new stake in shares of Washington Federal during the second quarter valued at about $133,000. 83.74% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Washington Federal

Washington Federal, Inc is a bank holding company. The Company conducts its operations through a federally-insured national bank subsidiary, Washington Federal, National Association (the Bank). The Company’s principal activities consists of taking deposits from the public and investing these funds in loans of various types, including first lien mortgages on single-family dwellings, construction loans, land acquisition and development loans, loans on multi-family and other income producing properties, home equity loans and business loans.

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