Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Over the last year, Walgreens has been trading above the broader industry. The company finally gaining approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the modified deal involving purchase of a number of Rite Aid (RAD) store buoys optimism. Although investors did not show much optimism regarding the company’s purchase of fewer-than-expected stores, we believe the deal’s financial outcome is pretty attractive. Moreover, this modified merger contract is expected to extend Walgreens’ growth strategy and offer additional operational benefits. We are also upbeat about Walgreens’ ‘Next Chapter plan’ through fiscal 2017 focusing on a multi-faceted cost-reduction initiative across the enterprise. On the flip side, slowdown in generic introduction continues to weigh upon the company’s margins. Also, tough competitive landscapes along with currency fluctuations continue to pose threats for the company.”

WBA has been the subject of several other research reports. Loop Capital initiated coverage on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Thursday, August 24th. They set a buy rating and a $95.00 price target for the company. Needham & Company LLC restated a buy rating and set a $94.00 price target on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Sunday, September 10th. BidaskClub lowered shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 12th. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a buy rating and set a $95.00 target price on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Thursday, September 7th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated a buy rating and set a $97.00 target price on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Thursday, July 13th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Walgreens Boots Alliance presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $91.31.

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) traded down 4.87% during mid-day trading on Thursday, hitting $73.20. 11,629,912 shares of the company traded hands. The stock has a market capitalization of $78.33 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.48 and a beta of 1.25. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a one year low of $72.77 and a one year high of $89.69. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $80.00 and a 200-day moving average of $81.15.

TRADEMARK VIOLATION WARNING: This news story was reported by The Cerbat Gem and is owned by of The Cerbat Gem. If you are viewing this news story on another publication, it was copied illegally and reposted in violation of United States and international trademark & copyright legislation. The legal version of this news story can be viewed at https://www.thecerbatgem.com/2017/10/06/walgreens-boots-alliance-inc-wba-upgraded-by-zacks-investment-research-to-hold.html.

Walgreens Boots Alliance announced that its Board of Directors has approved a share buyback plan on Thursday, June 29th that allows the company to buyback $5.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the pharmacy operator to reacquire up to 5.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, September 12th. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 18th were issued a dividend of $0.40 per share. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.19%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 16th. This is a boost from Walgreens Boots Alliance’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.38. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s payout ratio is 40.30%.

In other news, Director William C. Foote sold 2,736 shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.79, for a total value of $218,305.44. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 19,151 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,528,058.29. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Insiders own 13.50% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of WBA. Franklin Resources Inc. raised its position in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 24.7% in the 2nd quarter. Franklin Resources Inc. now owns 18,502,701 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $1,448,939,000 after buying an additional 3,662,302 shares during the last quarter. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership raised its position in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 471.4% in the 2nd quarter. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership now owns 3,295,583 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $258,077,000 after buying an additional 2,718,800 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 2.8% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 69,985,653 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $5,480,577,000 after buying an additional 1,926,108 shares during the last quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB raised its position in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 26.5% in the 1st quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 9,154,328 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $760,267,000 after buying an additional 1,917,082 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Wellington Management Group LLP raised its position in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 5.9% in the 1st quarter. Wellington Management Group LLP now owns 32,846,862 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $2,727,932,000 after buying an additional 1,824,300 shares during the last quarter. 60.16% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Walgreens Boots Alliance

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).

Analyst Recommendations for Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA)

Receive News & Stock Ratings for Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and related stocks with our FREE daily email newsletter.