Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Thursday morning. The firm currently has $86.00 target price on the retailer’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Wal-Mart have outperformed the Retail-Supermarkets industry in the last one year, primarily owing to sturdy earnings history. We note that the company continues to gain from its robust strategies such as price-matching initiative and expanding e-commerce business. Also, its acquisition of four e-commerce businesses since the Jet.com acquisition is in-line with the company’s efforts to grow its online activities. Recently, Wal-Mart extended its partnership with JD.com to integrate the platforms, supply chains and customer resources in China. Furthermore, it is benefiting from the booming online grocery shopping and delivery industry by expanding its business offerings. Notably, it posted positive comps at the U.S. segment for 11 successive quarters now. However, unfavorable currency, soft international revenues and stiff competition pose concerns. Nonetheless, estimates have been stable ahead of the second-quarter earnings.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on the stock. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a buy rating and set a $86.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Friday, April 7th. Gordon Haskett started coverage on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Tuesday, May 9th. They set a buy rating and a $90.00 target price for the company. Vetr upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $79.40 target price for the company in a research note on Monday, May 15th. Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated a buy rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Saturday, May 13th. Finally, Robert W. Baird set a $80.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Monday, May 15th. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have assigned a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $78.46.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) opened at 79.81 on Thursday. The stock has a market cap of $240.59 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.12 and a beta of 0.28. Wal-Mart Stores has a one year low of $65.28 and a one year high of $80.47. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $76.50 and its 200 day moving average price is $73.26.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, May 18th. The retailer reported $1.00 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.96 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $116.53 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $117.01 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.79% and a return on equity of 16.96%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 1.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.98 earnings per share. Analysts forecast that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.36 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other Wal-Mart Stores news, Director S Robson Walton sold 1,321,340 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, May 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.61, for a total transaction of $103,870,537.40. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider David Cheesewright sold 25,729 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, June 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $76.65, for a total transaction of $1,972,127.85. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 23,006,720 shares of company stock worth $1,816,131,604 over the last 90 days. 51.39% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of WMT. Shepherd Financial Partners LLC bought a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at $376,000. Summit Global Investments bought a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at $5,213,000. United Capital Financial Advisers LLC raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 3.9% in the fourth quarter. United Capital Financial Advisers LLC now owns 225,961 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $15,618,000 after buying an additional 8,507 shares during the last quarter. Cigna Investments Inc. New bought a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores during the fourth quarter valued at $4,285,000. Finally, Rocky Mountain Advisers LLC raised its position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 9.9% in the fourth quarter. Rocky Mountain Advisers LLC now owns 7,750 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $536,000 after buying an additional 700 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 30.12% of the company’s stock.

Wal-Mart Stores Company Profile

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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Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

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