Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) from a strong sell rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Nielsen's improving performance in the Watch segment and benefits from Gracenote acquisition are positives for the company’s market share. Moreover, the company’s Connected Partner Program bodes well for improving clientele. Also, regular dividend payment and share repurchase reflect Nielsen’s financial strength and commitment to return value to shareholders. However, continued investments in technology and infrastructure remain risks for margin expansion and profitability, going forward. In the past 12 months, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to. It continues to suffer from weakness in the U.S. Buy segment and weak performing emerging markets. Also, mounting competition in the digital space poses a major threat to the company’s market position.”

NLSN has been the topic of several other research reports. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a market weight rating and issued a $24.00 target price (down previously from $38.00) on shares of Nielsen in a report on Friday, July 27th. Morgan Stanley lowered their target price on shares of Nielsen from $40.00 to $38.00 and set a $30.76 rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, July 18th. Barclays raised shares of Nielsen from an underweight rating to an equal weight rating and lifted their target price for the company from $21.00 to $27.00 in a report on Tuesday, August 14th. Macquarie raised shares of Nielsen from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and set a $34.00 target price on the stock in a report on Tuesday, August 14th. Finally, Robert W. Baird reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $26.00 target price on shares of Nielsen in a report on Friday, July 27th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $30.77.

NYSE NLSN opened at $27.20 on Tuesday. The company has a current ratio of 1.18, a quick ratio of 1.19 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.96. The firm has a market capitalization of $9.68 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.89, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.45 and a beta of 0.96. Nielsen has a one year low of $20.53 and a one year high of $42.15.

Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 26th. The business services provider reported $0.20 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.59 by ($0.39). The business had revenue of $1.65 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.71 billion. Nielsen had a net margin of 5.57% and a return on equity of 15.28%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up .2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.37 earnings per share. equities analysts anticipate that Nielsen will post 1.98 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, September 5th. Investors of record on Wednesday, August 22nd were issued a dividend of $0.35 per share. This represents a $1.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 5.15%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, August 21st. Nielsen’s dividend payout ratio is currently 66.35%.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in NLSN. FMR LLC boosted its holdings in Nielsen by 135.2% during the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 21,740,698 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $672,439,000 after buying an additional 12,496,283 shares in the last quarter. Kiltearn Partners LLP purchased a new stake in Nielsen during the first quarter worth about $85,454,000. Toronto Dominion Bank boosted its holdings in Nielsen by 1,281.8% during the second quarter. Toronto Dominion Bank now owns 2,517,432 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $77,846,000 after buying an additional 2,335,241 shares in the last quarter. Windacre Partnership LLC boosted its holdings in Nielsen by 95.2% during the first quarter. Windacre Partnership LLC now owns 4,399,100 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $139,847,000 after buying an additional 2,146,000 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Clarkston Capital Partners LLC boosted its holdings in Nielsen by 73.1% during the second quarter. Clarkston Capital Partners LLC now owns 2,905,160 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $89,857,000 after buying an additional 1,227,220 shares in the last quarter. 95.56% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an information and measurement company. It operates through Buy and Watch segments. The company provides media and marketing information, analytics, and manufacturer and retailer expertise about what and where consumers buy, read, watch, and listen.

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