Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc. (NYSE:WDR) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Thursday. The brokerage currently has $23.00 price objective on the asset manager’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Waddell & Reed's shares have outperformed the industry over the last six months. The company has an impressive earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. A consistent decline in expenses continues to be a positive. As the company is making efforts to improve efficiency and optimize its operations, expenses are likely to continue witnessing a downward trend in the next few quarters. Further, its initiatives through Project E should help boosting top-line growth in the long run. Despite higher gross sales and a fall in net outflows, assets under management (AUM) continue to decline. Also, pressure on revenues is expected to hamper the company’s profitability.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also commented on the company. BidaskClub upgraded Waddell & Reed Financial from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Morgan Stanley reiterated an underweight rating and issued a $15.00 price target (up previously from $14.00) on shares of Waddell & Reed Financial in a research report on Monday, July 10th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reiterated a sell rating and issued a $16.50 price target on shares of Waddell & Reed Financial in a research report on Friday, June 9th. ValuEngine upgraded Waddell & Reed Financial from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, June 20th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada initiated coverage on Waddell & Reed Financial in a research report on Thursday, June 29th. They issued an underperform rating and a $17.00 price target on the stock. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $18.19.

Waddell & Reed Financial (NYSE WDR) opened at 19.97 on Thursday. Waddell & Reed Financial has a 52 week low of $15.02 and a 52 week high of $22.45. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $18.78 and its 200 day moving average price is $18.35. The firm has a market cap of $1.67 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.55 and a beta of 2.04.

Waddell & Reed Financial (NYSE:WDR) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The asset manager reported $0.39 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.37 by $0.02. Waddell & Reed Financial had a return on equity of 18.75% and a net margin of 11.34%. The firm had revenue of $286.70 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $285.25 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.59 EPS. The business’s revenue was down 10.2% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts predict that Waddell & Reed Financial will post $1.45 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, October 11th will be paid a $0.46 dividend. This represents a $1.84 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 9.21%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, October 10th. Waddell & Reed Financial’s dividend payout ratio is 115.72%.

In related news, VP Benjamin R. Clouse sold 5,903 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $20.01, for a total transaction of $118,119.03. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 25,845 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $517,158.45. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director Alan W. Kosloff sold 25,076 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $19.40, for a total value of $486,474.40. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 71,873 shares in the company, valued at $1,394,336.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 3.80% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS raised its stake in Waddell & Reed Financial by 0.4% during the 1st quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 12,310 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $209,000 after buying an additional 50 shares during the period. Cipher Capital LP raised its stake in Waddell & Reed Financial by 0.8% during the 1st quarter. Cipher Capital LP now owns 13,127 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $223,000 after buying an additional 104 shares during the period. Eaton Vance Management raised its stake in Waddell & Reed Financial by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. Eaton Vance Management now owns 16,538 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $312,000 after buying an additional 149 shares during the period. Northwestern Mutual Investment Management Company LLC raised its stake in Waddell & Reed Financial by 1.8% during the 1st quarter. Northwestern Mutual Investment Management Company LLC now owns 14,523 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $247,000 after buying an additional 252 shares during the period. Finally, Financial Counselors Inc. raised its stake in Waddell & Reed Financial by 1.5% during the 2nd quarter. Financial Counselors Inc. now owns 21,675 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $409,000 after buying an additional 330 shares during the period. 96.37% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Waddell & Reed Financial Company Profile

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc, incorporated on December 24, 1981, is a holding company. The Company is a mutual fund and asset management company. The Company provides investment management, investment advisory, investment product underwriting, and distribution and shareholder services administration to Waddell & Reed Advisors group of mutual funds (the Advisors Funds), Ivy Funds, Ivy Funds Variable Insurance Portfolios (Ivy Funds VIP), InvestEd Portfolios and 529 college savings plan (collectively, the Funds), and the Ivy Global Investors Fund SICAV (the SICAV) and its Ivy Global Investors sub-funds (the IGI Funds), and institutional and separately managed accounts.

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Analyst Recommendations for Waddell & Reed Financial (NYSE:WDR)

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