Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Waste Management (NYSE:WM) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Monday morning. The brokerage currently has $99.00 target price on the business services provider’s stock.

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. Waste Management expects yield momentum to continue in its solid waste lines of business in the forthcoming quarters as well. With strong yield, volume, and cost performance in the third quarter, the company has lifted its guidance for 2017. The company plans to return significant cash to shareholders through healthy dividends and share repurchases in the future to reward them with risk-adjusted returns. 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.”

A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on WM. BMO Capital Markets reissued a buy rating and set a $85.00 target price on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Friday, October 13th. KeyCorp reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $88.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Macquarie raised Waste Management from a neutral rating to an outperform rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 3rd. Bank of America dropped their price objective on Waste Management from $85.00 to $83.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $100.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company. Waste Management currently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $86.78.

Shares of Waste Management (WM) traded up $0.91 during midday trading on Monday, hitting $88.18. The company had a trading volume of 1,605,000 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,701,175. The firm has a market cap of $38,350.00, a PE ratio of 28.35, a PEG ratio of 2.64 and a beta of 0.75. The company has a current ratio of 0.71, a quick ratio of 0.68 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.60. Waste Management has a 1 year low of $69.00 and a 1 year high of $88.40.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The business services provider reported $0.90 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.88 by $0.02. The firm had revenue of $3.72 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.71 billion. Waste Management had a return on equity of 25.61% and a net margin of 9.66%. The business’s revenue was up 4.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.84 EPS. research analysts forecast that Waste Management will post 3.2 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 1st were issued a dividend of $0.425 per share. This represents a $1.70 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.93%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 30th. Waste Management’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 54.66%.

Waste Management announced that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase plan on Thursday, December 14th that authorizes the company to buyback $1.25 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the business services provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

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

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its holdings in Waste Management by 5.0% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 34,374,879 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $2,521,397,000 after buying an additional 1,621,347 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 4.9% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 31,637,903 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $2,320,637,000 after purchasing an additional 1,475,583 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN boosted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 1.4% during the third quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 7,277,527 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $569,612,000 after purchasing an additional 103,234 shares during the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC boosted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 8.5% during the third quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 4,684,275 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $366,641,000 after purchasing an additional 366,450 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Ameriprise Financial Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 1.6% during the second quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 3,145,664 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $230,748,000 after purchasing an additional 50,832 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.89% of the company’s stock.

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Waste Management Company Profile

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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