Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) was the recipient of a significant increase in short interest in the month of August. As of August 15th, there was short interest totalling 14,371,494 shares, an increase of 13.5% from the July 31st total of 12,659,677 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 4,293,429 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 3.3 days. Approximately 1.6% of the shares of the company are short sold.

A number of equities research analysts have commented on WBA shares. Jefferies Group LLC reduced their target price on Walgreens Boots Alliance from $95.00 to $80.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, May 31st. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Wednesday, June 14th. BidaskClub downgraded Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Saturday, June 24th. Needham & Company LLC started coverage on Walgreens Boots Alliance in a report on Tuesday, June 27th. They issued a “hold” rating for the company. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc reissued a “neutral” rating and issued a $77.00 target price (down previously from $89.00) on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a report on Wednesday, June 28th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Walgreens Boots Alliance currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $90.88.

In related news, Director William C. Foote sold 2,736 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.79, for a total transaction of $218,305.44. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 19,151 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,528,058.29. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. 13.50% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 2.8% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 69,985,653 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $5,480,577,000 after buying an additional 1,926,108 shares during the period. State Street Corp increased its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 1.8% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 37,612,843 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $3,123,757,000 after buying an additional 677,743 shares during the last quarter. Wellington Management Group LLP increased its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 5.9% in the first quarter. Wellington Management Group LLP now owns 32,846,862 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $2,727,932,000 after buying an additional 1,824,300 shares during the last quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. increased its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 24.7% in the second quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 18,502,701 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $1,448,939,000 after buying an additional 3,662,302 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Nordea Investment Management AB increased its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 10.2% in the second quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 10,085,836 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $789,822,000 after buying an additional 931,508 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 60.17% of the company’s stock.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ WBA) opened at 81.50 on Friday. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $80.41 and its 200 day moving average price is $82.26. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a 52-week low of $75.18 and a 52-week high of $88.00. The firm has a market capitalization of $87.21 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.58 and a beta of 1.25.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, June 29th. The pharmacy operator reported $1.33 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.30 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $30.12 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $29.72 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a return on equity of 17.34% and a net margin of 3.69%. The firm’s revenue was up 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $1.18 EPS. Equities research analysts predict that Walgreens Boots Alliance will post $5.00 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, September 12th. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 18th will be paid a dividend of $0.40 per share. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.96%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 16th. This is an increase from Walgreens Boots Alliance’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.38. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s dividend payout ratio is 40.30%.

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced that its board has initiated a stock repurchase program on Thursday, June 29th that authorizes the company to buyback $5.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the pharmacy operator to buy up to 5.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

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Walgreens Boots Alliance Company Profile

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc (Walgreens Boots Alliance) is a holding company. The Company is a global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Walgreens Boots Alliance operates through three divisions, including Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. The Company’s products are marketed under a number of brands, which include No7, the Botanics range, Almus (generic medicines), Boots Pharmaceuticals and Soap & Glory (bathing and beauty brand).

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