Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) was the target of a significant drop in short interest in December. As of December 30th, there was short interest totalling 27,407,889 shares, a drop of 12.2% from the December 15th total of 31,224,624 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 4,042,479 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 6.8 days. Approximately 8.7% of the company’s stock are sold short.

In related news, EVP James P. Sud sold 1,700 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, December 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $31.30, for a total transaction of $53,210.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 185,322 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,800,578.60. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Jeff Turnas sold 4,400 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $30.21, for a total value of $132,924.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 6,792 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $205,186.32. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in WFM. CIBC World Markets Inc. purchased a new position in Whole Foods Market during the second quarter worth approximately $301,000. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. boosted its position in Whole Foods Market by 254.2% in the second quarter. Daiwa Securities Group Inc. now owns 82,530 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,643,000 after buying an additional 59,230 shares in the last quarter. Shell Asset Management Co. boosted its position in Whole Foods Market by 35.5% in the second quarter. Shell Asset Management Co. now owns 62,559 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,003,000 after buying an additional 16,385 shares in the last quarter. MSI Financial Services Inc boosted its position in Whole Foods Market by 6.1% in the second quarter. MSI Financial Services Inc now owns 17,914 shares of the company’s stock worth $573,000 after buying an additional 1,030 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Seven Bridges Advisors LLC boosted its position in Whole Foods Market by 17.7% in the second quarter. Seven Bridges Advisors LLC now owns 3,431 shares of the company’s stock worth $110,000 after buying an additional 515 shares in the last quarter. 83.70% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) opened at 30.68 on Friday. Whole Foods Market has a 52 week low of $27.67 and a 52 week high of $35.58. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $31.25 and a 200-day moving average price of $30.48. The firm has a market capitalization of $9.77 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.79 and a beta of 0.78.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 2nd. The company reported $0.28 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.24 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $3.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $26.30 million. Whole Foods Market had a net margin of 3.22% and a return on equity of 15.65%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 1.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.24 earnings per share. Analysts anticipate that Whole Foods Market will post $1.45 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 24th. Stockholders of record on Friday, January 13th will be issued a $0.14 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, January 11th. This represents a $0.56 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.83%. This is a boost from Whole Foods Market’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. Whole Foods Market’s dividend payout ratio is presently 36.13%.

WFM has been the subject of a number of recent analyst reports. Credit Suisse Group set a $40.00 price objective on Whole Foods Market and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, November 6th. Barclays PLC set a $30.00 price objective on Whole Foods Market and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Saturday, November 19th. Vetr cut Whole Foods Market from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $29.97 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, December 5th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed an “underperform” rating and issued a $23.00 price objective on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Thursday, November 3rd. Finally, RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed an “outperform” rating and issued a $37.00 price objective on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Thursday, November 3rd. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $30.27.

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About Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market, Inc is engaged in operating natural and organic foods supermarkets. The Company’s brands include Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Engine 2 Plant-Strong. As of April 10, 2016, the Company operated 441 stores, which include 421 stores in 42 states in the United States and the District of Columbia, 11 stores in Canada, and 9 stores in the United Kingdom.

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