United Natural Foods Inc. (NASDAQ:UNFI) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “United Natural has been underperforming than the overall Zacks industry since mid-2015. In fact, estimates have also been declining ahead of the company’s first quarter fiscal 2017 results, may be due to overall weakness in the grocery industry. While United Natural posted better-than-expected fourth quarter fiscal 2016 results, earnings declined on a year over year basis due to soft margins. Gross margin expanded in the quarter, but continued to remain challenging due to competitive pricing pressure, moderated supplier promotional activity, and a reduction in fuel surcharges. Overall, we are impressed with the company’s focus on its acquisition strategies, efforts to increase its market share and improve operational efficiency. However, gross margin headwinds continue to remain a concern. Further, the company will face the pressure from food deflation, stiff competition, aggressive promotional environment and waning store traffic.”

Several other equities analysts also recently issued reports on the stock. TheStreet downgraded shares of United Natural Foods from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 8th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “market perform” rating on shares of United Natural Foods in a research note on Wednesday, September 14th. Jefferies Group set a $45.00 price target on shares of United Natural Foods and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 29th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and set a $40.00 price target (down previously from $45.00) on shares of United Natural Foods in a research note on Tuesday, August 16th. Finally, Barclays PLC started coverage on shares of United Natural Foods in a research note on Thursday, September 22nd. They set an “underweight” rating and a $40.00 price target for the company. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have given a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $43.48.

Analyst Recommendations for United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI)

United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI) traded down 0.36% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $46.79. 176,033 shares of the company traded hands. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.36 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.72 and a beta of 1.22. The company has a 50 day moving average of $43.72 and a 200-day moving average of $43.81. United Natural Foods has a 12-month low of $29.75 and a 12-month high of $52.18.

United Natural Foods (NASDAQ:UNFI) last released its quarterly earnings results on Monday, September 12th. The company reported $0.70 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.63 by $0.07. The firm earned $2.21 billion during the quarter. United Natural Foods had a net margin of 1.48% and a return on equity of 8.85%. United Natural Foods’s revenue was up 7.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.72 EPS. Equities analysts anticipate that United Natural Foods will post $2.60 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. FMR LLC raised its stake in shares of United Natural Foods by 16.7% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 3,671,127 shares of the company’s stock valued at $171,808,000 after buying an additional 526,254 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in shares of United Natural Foods by 2.6% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 3,594,563 shares of the company’s stock valued at $168,225,000 after buying an additional 90,354 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its stake in shares of United Natural Foods by 6.5% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 2,619,718 shares of the company’s stock valued at $104,894,000 after buying an additional 159,935 shares in the last quarter. Riverbridge Partners LLC raised its stake in shares of United Natural Foods by 16.9% in the third quarter. Riverbridge Partners LLC now owns 1,851,683 shares of the company’s stock valued at $74,141,000 after buying an additional 267,643 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp raised its stake in shares of United Natural Foods by 12.7% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 1,849,873 shares of the company’s stock valued at $74,069,000 after buying an additional 208,523 shares in the last quarter. 99.72% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

United Natural Foods Company Profile

United Natural Foods, Inc is a distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and non-food products in the United States and Canada. It offers products, in six product categories: grocery and general merchandise, produce, perishables and frozen foods, nutritional supplements and sports nutrition, bulk and food service products and personal care items.

5 Day Chart for NASDAQ:UNFI

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