Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has been outperforming the industry on a year-to-date basis, as the company is pushing itself to understand the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters, on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. The company therefore expects sales to rise approximately 3% during fiscal 2019, backed by the sustained growth in comps and e-commerce. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavorable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. Nevertheless, the company makes efforts to offset these headwinds with its initiatives to boost sales.”

A number of other research firms also recently weighed in on WMT. Susquehanna Bancshares Inc restated a “positive” rating and issued a $99.00 price target (up from $93.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Monday. BMO Capital Markets set a $91.00 price target on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) restated a “buy” rating and issued a $91.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Thursday, October 12th. Stifel Nicolaus restated a “hold” rating and issued a $85.00 price target (up from $79.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Wednesday, October 11th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada restated an “underperform” rating and issued a $77.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Wednesday, October 11th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have issued a hold rating, fourteen have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $84.11.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) traded up 0.087% during midday trading on Tuesday, hitting $85.815. The company had a trading volume of 3,740,229 shares. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $80.08 and its 200-day moving average is $77.67. The firm has a market capitalization of $256.35 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.619 and a beta of 0.29. Wal-Mart Stores has a 12-month low of $65.28 and a 12-month high of $86.95.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $123.40 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $121.86 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.87% and a net margin of 2.60%. The business’s revenue was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.07 earnings per share. On average, analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.37 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its board has approved a share repurchase program on Tuesday, October 10th that allows the company to buyback $20.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the retailer to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are generally a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

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In related news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 2,000,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.47, for a total transaction of $158,940,000.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 6,748,580 shares in the company, valued at approximately $536,309,652.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, insider Jacqueline P. Canney sold 1,586 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.00, for a total value of $125,294.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 21,125 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,668,875. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 9,924,828 shares of company stock valued at $785,676,492 in the last three months. 51.39% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Ropes Wealth Advisors LLC grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 4.6% during the 1st quarter. Ropes Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 23,573 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $1,699,000 after acquiring an additional 1,039 shares during the last quarter. Security National Bank of SO Dak grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 2.6% during the 1st quarter. Security National Bank of SO Dak now owns 15,305 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $1,103,000 after acquiring an additional 386 shares during the last quarter. First Personal Financial Services grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 5.0% during the 1st quarter. First Personal Financial Services now owns 72,719 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $5,242,000 after acquiring an additional 3,434 shares during the last quarter. Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 1.5% during the 2nd quarter. Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA now owns 138,747 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $10,500,000 after acquiring an additional 1,994 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. grew its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 4.0% during the 1st quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. now owns 809,413 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $58,342,000 after acquiring an additional 31,436 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 30.19% of the company’s stock.

About Wal-Mart Stores

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes its mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart or Wal-Mart brands, as well as digital retail.

Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

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