Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:CFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Friday morning. The firm currently has $39.00 target price on the bank’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Citizens Financial’s shares have outperformed the industry over the last six months. The company surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in second-quarter 2017. The results benefited from increased revenues and loan growth, partially offset by higher expenses. It remains on track to implement TOP III efficiency initiatives, which are expected to boost earnings performance further. The company also launched TOP IV initiatives which are expected to achieve pre-tax benefit of $90-$105 million by the end of 2018. Following the three Fed rate hikes since Dec 2016, margin pressure seems to be easing. Also, the company continues to benefit from improving loans and deposit balances, and is well positioned to grow further as the U.S. economy is gaining traction. Though, higher costs resulting from pending legal hassles remain a major concern, Citizens Financial’s steady capital deployment activities continue to boost its shareholders confidence.”

Several other research analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. Piper Jaffray Companies reiterated a neutral rating and set a $38.00 price target (down previously from $40.00) on shares of Citizens Financial Group in a research note on Wednesday, April 12th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods set a $40.00 target price on shares of Citizens Financial Group and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, April 4th. Wedbush upgraded shares of Citizens Financial Group from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and lifted their target price for the company from $39.00 to $41.00 in a research note on Monday, May 1st. Deutsche Bank AG restated a hold rating on shares of Citizens Financial Group in a research note on Wednesday, July 5th. Finally, Rafferty Capital Markets restated a buy rating and set a $40.00 target price (up previously from $36.00) on shares of Citizens Financial Group in a research note on Monday, April 24th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $35.19.

Shares of Citizens Financial Group (CFG) opened at 35.08 on Friday. Citizens Financial Group has a 52-week low of $21.92 and a 52-week high of $39.75. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $35.86 and its 200 day moving average price is $35.96. The stock has a market cap of $17.75 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.98 and a beta of 1.33.

Citizens Financial Group (NYSE:CFG) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 21st. The bank reported $0.63 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.59 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $1.40 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.40 billion. Citizens Financial Group had a net margin of 19.86% and a return on equity of 6.08%. The company’s revenue was up 9.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.46 EPS. On average, analysts expect that Citizens Financial Group will post $2.52 EPS for the current year.

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Citizens Financial Group announced that its board has authorized a share repurchase program on Wednesday, June 28th that allows the company to repurchase $850.00 million in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the bank to repurchase up to 4.8% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, August 16th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, August 2nd will be issued a $0.18 dividend. This is an increase from Citizens Financial Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. This represents a $0.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.05%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, July 31st. Citizens Financial Group’s payout ratio is currently 23.83%.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of CFG. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in Citizens Financial Group by 5.3% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 51,859,836 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,791,757,000 after buying an additional 2,616,045 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. boosted its position in Citizens Financial Group by 1,533.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 42,692,103 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,475,015,000 after buying an additional 40,078,389 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its position in Citizens Financial Group by 2.4% in the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 16,827,697 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $581,396,000 after buying an additional 391,502 shares during the last quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC boosted its position in Citizens Financial Group by 0.9% in the first quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC now owns 6,613,670 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $228,502,000 after buying an additional 58,865 shares during the last quarter. Finally, AQR Capital Management LLC boosted its position in Citizens Financial Group by 25.3% in the first quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 5,785,410 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $199,886,000 after buying an additional 1,166,959 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 95.95% of the company’s stock.

About Citizens Financial Group

Citizens Financial Group, Inc is a retail bank holding company. The Company operates through two segments: Consumer Banking and Commercial Banking. Its Consumer Banking serves retail customers and small businesses. Consumer Banking products and services include deposit products, mortgage and home equity lending, auto financing, student loans, personal unsecured lines and loans, credit cards, business loans, wealth management and investment services.

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Analyst Recommendations for Citizens Financial Group (NYSE:CFG)

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