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

According to Zacks, “Share price of Walmart has outperformed the industry in the past one year, as the company is pushing itself to adapt with the evolving needs of its customers and expand itself in both brick-and-mortar space as well as e-commerce activities. On one hand, the company is posting positive comps at Walmart U.S. for 12 successive quarters; while on the other hand, it is also building its e-commerce capabilities through acquisitions and growing in the online grocery and delivery market. The company therefore expects sales to rise approximately 3% during fiscal 2019, backed by the sustained growth in comps and e-commerce. However, the company still faces headwinds such as unfavourable currency, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers and huge expenses related to e-commerce investments. It has also resorted to store closures in the U.S. owing to slower growth in small format Express stores.”

A number of other analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. Vetr raised shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “strong sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $87.80 price objective on the stock in a report on Monday. Susquehanna Bancshares Inc reaffirmed a “positive” rating and issued a $99.00 price objective (up previously from $93.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Monday, October 16th. BMO Capital Markets set a $91.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, October 13th. Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $91.00 price objective on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Thursday, October 12th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $85.00 price objective (up previously from $79.00) on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Wednesday, October 11th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have issued a hold rating, fourteen have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $85.58.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) traded up 0.236% on Tuesday, hitting $87.155. 2,078,445 shares of the stock were exchanged. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $82.57 and its 200 day moving average price is $78.86. The firm has a market cap of $260.35 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.941 and a beta of 0.29. Wal-Mart Stores has a one year low of $65.28 and a one year high of $89.11.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, August 17th. The retailer reported $1.08 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.07 by $0.01. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.60% and a return on equity of 16.87%. The business had revenue of $123.40 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $121.86 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.07 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts anticipate that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.37 earnings per share for the current year.

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its Board of Directors 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 buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

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In related news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 621,500 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.28, for a total transaction of $48,651,020.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 6,748,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $528,278,842.40. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 2,000,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.47, for a total transaction of $158,940,000.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 6,748,580 shares in the company, valued at approximately $536,309,652.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 9,924,828 shares of company stock worth $785,676,492 in the last ninety days. 51.39% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Winfield Associates Inc. boosted its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 5.8% during the second quarter. Winfield Associates Inc. now owns 1,373 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $104,000 after buying an additional 75 shares in the last quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC boosted its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 89.2% during the first quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC now owns 1,476 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $106,000 after buying an additional 696 shares in the last quarter. Genovese Burford & Brothers Wealth & Retirement Plan Management LLC boosted its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 3.3% during the second quarter. Genovese Burford & Brothers Wealth & Retirement Plan Management LLC now owns 1,429 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 45 shares in the last quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. boosted its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 456.9% during the second quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. now owns 1,526 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $115,000 after buying an additional 1,252 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Hudock Capital Group LLC boosted its stake in Wal-Mart Stores by 0.4% during the second quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC now owns 1,847 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $139,000 after buying an additional 7 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 30.18% of the company’s stock.

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.

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

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