Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Waste Management (NYSE:WM) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Saturday morning.

According to Zacks, “Waste Management is focusing on the core business activities to instill price and cost discipline in order to achieve better margins. The company's successful cost-reduction initiatives have helped it in accomplishing remarkable gross margin expansion and EBITDA growth over the quarters. With strong yield, volume, and cost performance in the third quarter, the company has lifted its guidance for 2017. Waste Management has also outperformed the industry in the last three months. However, stringent government regulations are likely to erode profitability as compliance with such regulations increases operating costs. The pricing environment remains challenging and highly competitive due to aggressive bidding by smaller competitors. The company expects volumes to be down due to lower national counts as it strives for improved margin growth and pricing. Decline in average recycling commodity prices and recycling volumes also remain headwinds.”

Several other brokerages also recently issued reports on WM. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a buy rating and set a $85.00 price target on shares of Waste Management in a report on Friday, October 13th. KeyCorp reiterated a buy rating and set a $88.00 price target on shares of Waste Management in a report on Friday, October 27th. Macquarie upgraded Waste Management from a neutral rating to an outperform rating in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. Bank of America decreased their price target on Waste Management from $85.00 to $83.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a report on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus reiterated a buy rating and set a $100.00 price target on shares of Waste Management in a report on Thursday, January 4th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $86.78.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) traded up $0.09 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $88.27. The stock had a trading volume of 1,984,404 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,456,722. The company has a market capitalization of $38,328.25, a P/E ratio of 28.47, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.65 and a beta of 0.75. Waste Management has a 52-week low of $69.00 and a 52-week high of $88.66. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.60, a quick ratio of 0.68 and a current ratio of 0.71.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The business services provider reported $0.90 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.88 by $0.02. Waste Management had a return on equity of 25.61% and a net margin of 9.66%. The business had revenue of $3.72 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.71 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.84 earnings per share. Waste Management’s revenue was up 4.7% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts expect that Waste Management will post 3.2 EPS for the current year.

Waste Management declared that its board has authorized a stock buyback program on Thursday, December 14th that allows the company to repurchase $1.25 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the business services provider to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 1st were given a $0.425 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 30th. This represents a $1.70 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.93%. Waste Management’s dividend payout ratio is currently 54.84%.

In other Waste Management news, SVP Barry H. Caldwell sold 1,650 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $81.10, for a total value of $133,815.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. 0.19% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Bruderman Asset Management LLC purchased a new position in Waste Management in the second quarter worth $110,000. FTB Advisors Inc. boosted its position in Waste Management by 4.3% in the second quarter. FTB Advisors Inc. now owns 1,585 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $116,000 after purchasing an additional 65 shares during the last quarter. Atlantic Trust LLC boosted its position in Waste Management by 7.6% in the second quarter. Atlantic Trust LLC now owns 3,820 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $172,000 after purchasing an additional 270 shares during the last quarter. MPS Loria Financial Planners LLC purchased a new position in shares of Waste Management during the 2nd quarter valued at $182,000. Finally, Horan Capital Advisors LLC. purchased a new position in shares of Waste Management during the 3rd quarter valued at $186,000. 74.89% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc (WM) is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is a provider of waste management environmental services. The Company’s segments include Solid Waste and Other. The Company’s Solid Waste segment includes its solid waste business. The Other segment includes its Strategic Business Solutions (WMSBS) organization; its landfill gas-to-energy operations and third-party subcontract and administration services managed by its Energy and Environmental Services and WM Renewable Energy organizations; its recycling brokerage services, and its service offerings and solutions, such as portable self-storage and long distance moving services, fluorescent lamp recycling and interests it holds in oil and gas producing properties.

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