Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Monday. The brokerage presently has a $87.00 price objective on the oil and gas company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 12.20% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Among independent refiners, Valero has the most diversified refinery base.  The company has been consistently reviewing its refining portfolio and enhancing its asset base by acquiring refinery assets, which help in boosting its operating performance. Also, Valero’s dividend yield is attractive and is much higher than the industry. It is to be noted that improving throughput volume on the back of higher refinery utilization rates has been rewarding Valero over the past four quarters. Following this development, the company managed to surpass the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the prior four quarters. Also, Valero’s price performance looks lucrative as reflected by the company’s 14.6% gain as compared with 9% improvement of the industry over the last three months.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on the stock. Citigroup Inc. boosted their target price on shares of Valero Energy Corporation from $68.00 to $76.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 18th. Wells Fargo & Company reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $87.00 target price (up previously from $74.00) on shares of Valero Energy Corporation in a research note on Tuesday, October 17th. Jefferies Group LLC downgraded shares of Valero Energy Corporation from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, October 16th. Barclays PLC reiterated an “overweight” rating and set a $86.00 target price (up previously from $85.00) on shares of Valero Energy Corporation in a research note on Tuesday, October 10th. Finally, J P Morgan Chase & Co downgraded shares of Valero Energy Corporation from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $75.00 to $78.00 in a research note on Friday, October 6th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $76.39.

Shares of Valero Energy Corporation (VLO) traded up 0.09% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $77.61. The stock had a trading volume of 720,464 shares. Valero Energy Corporation has a 12 month low of $54.21 and a 12 month high of $78.64. The firm has a market cap of $34.28 billion, a PE ratio of 19.16 and a beta of 1.22. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $74.39 and its 200 day moving average is $68.01.

Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The oil and gas company reported $1.23 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.08 by $0.15. The firm had revenue of $22.25 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $19.32 billion. Valero Energy Corporation had a net margin of 2.17% and a return on equity of 8.59%. The company’s revenue was up 13.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.07 earnings per share. Equities research analysts predict that Valero Energy Corporation will post $4.74 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, CFO Michael S. Ciskowski sold 53,012 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.88, for a total value of $3,863,514.56. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now directly owns 67,413 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $4,913,059.44. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Director Stephen M. Waters sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, September 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $68.00, for a total transaction of $102,000.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 55,168 shares of company stock valued at $4,015,279 over the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 0.45% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America raised its holdings in shares of Valero Energy Corporation by 0.6% in the first quarter. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America now owns 1,746 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock valued at $116,000 after buying an additional 11 shares during the last quarter. BKD Wealth Advisors LLC raised its holdings in shares of Valero Energy Corporation by 0.4% in the second quarter. BKD Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 6,542 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock valued at $441,000 after buying an additional 24 shares during the last quarter. Brown Advisory Securities LLC raised its holdings in shares of Valero Energy Corporation by 0.7% in the first quarter. Brown Advisory Securities LLC now owns 3,815 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock valued at $254,000 after buying an additional 25 shares during the last quarter. Eads & Heald Investment Counsel raised its holdings in shares of Valero Energy Corporation by 0.3% in the second quarter. Eads & Heald Investment Counsel now owns 8,420 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock valued at $568,000 after buying an additional 25 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ferguson Wellman Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Valero Energy Corporation by 0.7% in the second quarter. Ferguson Wellman Capital Management Inc. now owns 4,140 shares of the oil and gas company’s stock valued at $279,000 after buying an additional 30 shares during the last quarter. 80.63% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Valero Energy Corporation Company Profile

Valero Energy Corporation (Valero) is an independent petroleum refiner and ethanol producer. The Company’s segments include refining, ethanol and Valero Energy Partners LP (VLP). The refining segment includes its refining operations and the associated marketing activities. The ethanol segment includes its ethanol operations and the associated marketing activities, and logistics assets that support its ethanol operations.

Analyst Recommendations for Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE:VLO)

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