WestRock Co. (NYSE:WRK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “WestRock’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 adjusted earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 15%. In the fiscal first quarter 2017, WestRock expects sequential earnings to be lower, in line with the seasonal pattern experienced last year. Going forward, WestRock will gain from the strategic benefits of the MeadWestvaco and Rock-Tenn merger. Further, the company will benefit from acquisitions and the Grupo Gondi joint venture that will help it grow in the Mexican packaging market. Meanwhile, WestRock has completed the spin-off of its specialty chemicals business – Ingevity – as it was not in sync with the company’s core business. This will better position the company to focus on its operating priorities and strategies. However, merger-related expenses, weak primary demand for processed, frozen, and dry foods as well as carbonated soft drinks as well as a weak euro and real may weigh on WestRock’s near-term results.”

A number of other research analysts also recently commented on WRK. Citigroup Inc. upped their price objective on WestRock from $50.00 to $52.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, August 5th. Bank of America Corp. restated a “hold” rating and set a $45.00 price objective on shares of WestRock in a research note on Friday, August 5th. Jefferies Group upped their price objective on WestRock from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, August 5th. Credit Suisse Group AG set a $50.00 price target on WestRock and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, August 5th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG boosted their price target on WestRock from $50.00 to $53.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, September 23rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $52.89.

Analyst Recommendations for WestRock (NYSE:WRK)

Shares of WestRock (NYSE:WRK) opened at 49.64 on Tuesday. The stock’s market cap is $12.50 billion. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $47.08 and its 200-day moving average price is $43.65. WestRock has a 52-week low of $29.73 and a 52-week high of $52.62.

WestRock (NYSE:WRK) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Monday, November 7th. The company reported $0.71 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.63 by $0.08. The firm earned $3.61 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.54 billion. WestRock had a positive return on equity of 6.41% and a negative net margin of 2.72%. The firm’s revenue was down .1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.93 EPS. Analysts expect that WestRock will post $2.85 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 30th. Stockholders of record on Monday, November 21st will be issued a $0.40 dividend. This is a positive change from WestRock’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.38. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, November 17th. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.20%. WestRock’s dividend payout ratio is -96.77%.

In other news, Director John A. Luke, Jr. sold 188,103 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $46.62, for a total value of $8,769,361.86. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 837,343 shares in the company, valued at $39,036,930.66. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, insider James B. Porter sold 110,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.19, for a total value of $5,300,900.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 66,258 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,192,973.02. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 2.41% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WRK. DNB Asset Management AS increased its stake in shares of WestRock by 3.3% in the second quarter. DNB Asset Management AS now owns 15,594 shares of the company’s stock valued at $606,000 after buying an additional 500 shares in the last quarter. British Columbia Investment Management Corp increased its stake in shares of WestRock by 35.4% in the second quarter. British Columbia Investment Management Corp now owns 165,918 shares of the company’s stock valued at $6,449,000 after buying an additional 43,418 shares in the last quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. increased its stake in shares of WestRock by 11.8% in the second quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. now owns 11,255 shares of the company’s stock valued at $438,000 after buying an additional 1,188 shares in the last quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. increased its stake in shares of WestRock by 35.4% in the second quarter. Fulton Bank N.A. now owns 8,851 shares of the company’s stock valued at $344,000 after buying an additional 2,316 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Clear Harbor Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of WestRock during the first quarter valued at approximately $1,859,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.79% of the company’s stock.

WestRock Company Profile

Westrock Company is a provider of packaging solutions and manufactures containerboard and paperboard. The Company’s operating segments include Corrugated Packaging, Consumer Packaging, Specialty Chemicals, and Land and Development. The Company operates in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:WRK

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