Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Wal-Mart Stores, which recently announced plans to drop the “hyphen” and “stores” from its name to officially emerge as an omnichannel retailer, has surpassed the industry in a year. The company has been riding on its robust past record, which derives strength from constant e-commerce initiatives, like buyouts, alliances, surging grocery business and improved delivery systems. Thanks to these trends, along with solid traffic, Walmart’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 marked its ninth and 13th straight quarter of positive earnings surprise and comps growth, respectively. Also, the company’s international business remains a growth driver. However, costs associated with technological and e-commerce investments; mix impact from growing e-commerce operations and a compelling pricing strategy have been hurting Walmart’s gross margin for a while now. Stiff competition and volatile consumer spending also pose threats.”

A number of other analysts have also recently commented on WMT. Robert W. Baird set a $110.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, January 2nd. Royal Bank of Canada set a $106.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Friday. Vetr raised shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $96.71 price target on the stock in a research report on Monday, November 27th. UBS Group set a $100.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research report on Thursday. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twenty have given a hold rating, fourteen have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $96.81.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) traded up $1.48 during midday trading on Friday, reaching $101.61. The company had a trading volume of 8,277,400 shares, compared to its average volume of 8,510,000. The firm has a market capitalization of $301,010.00, a P/E ratio of 27.02, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.69 and a beta of 0.37. Wal-Mart Stores has a 1-year low of $65.28 and a 1-year high of $101.75. The company has a quick ratio of 0.19, a current ratio of 0.81 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 16th. The retailer reported $1.00 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $122.14 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $120.23 billion. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.92% and a net margin of 2.31%. Wal-Mart Stores’s quarterly revenue was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.98 earnings per share. sell-side analysts anticipate that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.43 earnings per share for the current year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its board has initiated a share buyback program on Tuesday, October 10th that authorizes the company to buyback $20.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the retailer to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director S Robson Walton sold 826,617 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $96.39, for a total transaction of $79,677,612.63. Following the transaction, the director now owns 3,345,065 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $322,430,815.35. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, SVP David Chojnowski sold 684 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, November 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $99.29, for a total transaction of $67,914.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 12,419,588 shares of company stock worth $1,207,333,538 in the last three months. Insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Winfield Associates Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 5.8% in the 2nd quarter. Winfield Associates Inc. now owns 1,373 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $104,000 after acquiring an additional 75 shares during the last quarter. Genovese Burford & Brothers Wealth & Retirement Plan Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 3.3% in the 2nd quarter. Genovese Burford & Brothers Wealth & Retirement Plan Management LLC now owns 1,429 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $108,000 after acquiring an additional 45 shares during the last quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 456.9% in the 2nd quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. now owns 1,526 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $115,000 after acquiring an additional 1,252 shares during the last quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC raised its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% in the 2nd quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC now owns 1,847 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $139,000 after acquiring an additional 7 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Kistler Tiffany Companies LLC raised its holdings in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 124.2% in the 2nd quarter. Kistler Tiffany Companies LLC now owns 1,910 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $145,000 after acquiring an additional 1,058 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 30.58% of the company’s stock.

ILLEGAL ACTIVITY WARNING: This news story was first reported by Watch List News and is the sole property of of Watch List News. If you are accessing this news story on another domain, it was stolen and reposted in violation of U.S. and international copyright and trademark law. The legal version of this news story can be accessed at https://www.watchlistnews.com/wal-mart-stores-wmt-cut-to-hold-at-zacks-investment-research/1799005.html.

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.

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on Wal-Mart Stores (WMT)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

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

Receive News & Ratings for Wal-Mart Stores Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Wal-Mart Stores and related companies with Analyst Ratings Network's FREE daily email newsletter.