Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) saw a significant increase in short interest in the month of October. As of October 13th, there was short interest totalling 49,465,523 shares, an increase of 13.1% from the September 29th total of 43,736,298 shares. Approximately 3.4% of the company’s stock are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 8,752,475 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 5.7 days.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.87% and a net margin of 2.60%. The firm had revenue of $123.40 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $121.86 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.07 EPS. Wal-Mart Stores’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback plan on Tuesday, October 10th that allows the company to repurchase $20.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the retailer to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 474,042 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $80.04, for a total value of $37,942,321.68. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 10,048,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $804,288,343.20. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, Director S Robson Walton sold 129,628 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $80.44, for a total value of $10,427,276.32. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 3,344,956 shares in the company, valued at $269,068,260.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 9,924,828 shares of company stock worth $785,676,492. 51.39% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in WMT. Ropes Wealth Advisors LLC increased its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 4.6% during the 1st quarter. Ropes Wealth Advisors LLC now owns 23,573 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $1,699,000 after buying an additional 1,039 shares in the last quarter. Security National Bank of SO Dak grew its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 2.6% in the first quarter. Security National Bank of SO Dak now owns 15,305 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $1,103,000 after purchasing an additional 386 shares in the last quarter. First Personal Financial Services grew its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 5.0% in the first quarter. First Personal Financial Services now owns 72,719 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $5,242,000 after purchasing an additional 3,434 shares in the last quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board grew its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 23.1% in the second quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board now owns 2,095,792 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $158,610,000 after purchasing an additional 393,180 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA grew its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 1.5% in the second quarter. Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA now owns 138,747 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $10,500,000 after purchasing an additional 1,994 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 30.18% of the company’s stock.

WMT has been the topic of several analyst reports. BidaskClub raised Wal-Mart Stores from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 31st. Zacks Investment Research raised Wal-Mart Stores from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $86.00 target price on the stock in a report on Thursday, July 27th. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) set a $84.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 26th. Jefferies Group LLC set a $88.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, July 17th. Finally, Cowen and Company set a $86.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, August 7th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have issued a hold rating, fourteen have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $85.58.

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About Wal-Mart Stores

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.

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