Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday. The firm presently has a $112.00 price target on the retailer’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price suggests a potential upside of 16.47% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Walmart has surpassed the industry over a year, courtesy of its solid earnings and comps record. The company has been gaining from constant e-commerce initiatives, like buyouts, alliances, and improved delivery systems. These trends, along with solid traffic drove Walmart’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 performance, wherein both earnings and revenues rose year over year and beat estimates. Notably, this marked Walmart’s ninth and 13th straight quarter of positive earnings surprise and U.S. comps growth, respectively. Results were driven by strong e-commerce sales, which were majorly fuelled by Walmart’s online grocery services. Also, the company’s international performance gained from strength in food categories. All these factors encouraged management to raise its view. However, stiff competition from brick and mortar and online retailers remains a concern. Also, macroeconomic woes like volatile consumer spending poses threats.”

Several other research analysts have also recently weighed in on the company. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) cut Wal-Mart Stores from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $100.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Jefferies Group LLC set a $110.00 price objective on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday. UBS AG reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $91.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research report on Friday. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $102.00 price objective on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research report on Friday. Finally, BMO Capital Markets upped their price objective on Wal-Mart Stores from $91.00 to $99.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research report on Friday. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have assigned a hold rating, fifteen have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $90.87.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) opened at $96.16 on Monday. Wal-Mart Stores has a fifty-two week low of $65.28 and a fifty-two week high of $100.13. The stock has a market capitalization of $287,250.00, a PE ratio of 22.25, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.60 and a beta of 0.34. The company has a quick ratio of 0.19, a current ratio of 0.81 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 16th. The retailer reported $1.00 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $122.14 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $120.23 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.92% and a net margin of 2.31%. Wal-Mart Stores’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.98 earnings per share. sell-side analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.42 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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

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In other Wal-Mart Stores news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 800,000 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction dated Friday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.35, for a total transaction of $62,680,000.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 6,748,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $528,751,243. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 621,500 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.28, for a total value of $48,651,020.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 6,748,580 shares in the company, valued at $528,278,842.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 9,979,505 shares of company stock worth $790,977,085 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WMT. Ropes Wealth Advisors LLC raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 4.6% in 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 in the last quarter. Security National Bank of SO Dak raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 2.6% in 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 in the last quarter. Cutter & CO Brokerage Inc. raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 2.5% in the 2nd quarter. Cutter & CO Brokerage Inc. now owns 8,067 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $611,000 after acquiring an additional 200 shares in the last quarter. First Personal Financial Services raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 5.0% in 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 in the last quarter. Finally, State of Wisconsin Investment Board raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 23.1% in the 2nd quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board now owns 2,095,792 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $158,610,000 after acquiring an additional 393,180 shares in the last quarter. 30.22% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Wal-Mart Stores Company Profile

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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