Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Friday morning. They currently have $56.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Morgan Stanley's shares have outperformed the industry over the last six months. The performance was supported by the company’s impressive earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in all the trailing four quarters. The company’s third-quarter 2017 results benefited from improvement in investment banking and stable equity trading income while slump in fixed income trading, fall in net interest income and higher in operating expenses were the undermining factors. The company’s efforts to lower balance sheet risk and strengthen wealth management operations along with its cost saving initiatives (Project Streamline) should further support profitability. However, continued fall in net interest income and overall trading woes are expected to hurt the company’s bottom-line growth in the near term.”

A number of other brokerages have also recently weighed in on MS. BMO Capital Markets raised their target price on shares of Morgan Stanley from $58.00 to $61.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a report on Thursday, July 20th. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $53.00 target price on shares of Morgan Stanley and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, September 15th. Barclays PLC raised their target price on shares of Morgan Stanley from $48.00 to $52.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a report on Wednesday. Berenberg Bank restated a hold rating and set a $40.00 target price on shares of Morgan Stanley in a report on Thursday, September 21st. Finally, ValuEngine cut shares of Morgan Stanley from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a report on Friday, September 1st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating, eighteen have assigned a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $50.39.

Shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE MS) traded up 1.79% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $50.68. The stock had a trading volume of 8,454,470 shares. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $47.82 and a 200-day moving average of $45.26. The company has a market cap of $91.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.07 and a beta of 1.61. Morgan Stanley has a one year low of $32.56 and a one year high of $50.91.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, October 17th. The financial services provider reported $0.93 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.81 by $0.12. The firm had revenue of $9.20 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $9.05 billion. Morgan Stanley had a net margin of 16.76% and a return on equity of 10.11%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.80 earnings per share. On average, analysts forecast that Morgan Stanley will post $3.57 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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Morgan Stanley declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Wednesday, June 28th that permits the company to repurchase $5.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the financial services provider to repurchase up to 6.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 15th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, October 31st will be issued a dividend of $0.25 per share. The ex-dividend date is Monday, October 30th. This represents a $1.00 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.97%. Morgan Stanley’s dividend payout ratio is currently 27.70%.

In related news, insider Jeffrey S. Brodsky sold 16,397 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, October 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.07, for a total value of $820,997.79. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 111,776 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,596,624.32. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, Chairman James P. Gorman sold 212,366 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $47.26, for a total transaction of $10,036,417.16. Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now owns 1,602,609 shares in the company, valued at $75,739,301.34. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.35% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 1.0% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 102,137,658 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $4,551,254,000 after purchasing an additional 969,461 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 1.4% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 93,483,287 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $4,165,615,000 after purchasing an additional 1,256,318 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 16.9% in the 1st quarter. FMR LLC now owns 46,221,986 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,980,150,000 after purchasing an additional 6,692,676 shares during the last quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 3.2% in the 2nd quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 20,973,434 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $934,569,000 after purchasing an additional 654,034 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 7.2% in the 1st quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 14,456,307 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $618,456,000 after purchasing an additional 970,041 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 85.17% of the company’s stock.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is a financial holding company. The Company’s segments include Institutional Securities, Wealth Management and Investment Management. The Company’s Institutional Securities business segment provides investment banking, sales and trading, and other services to corporations, governments, financial institutions and high-to-ultra high net worth clients.

Analyst Recommendations for Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)

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