Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) was the recipient of a significant growth in short interest during the month of October. As of October 13th, there was short interest totalling 49,465,523 shares, a growth of 13.1% from the September 29th total of 43,736,298 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 8,752,475 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 5.7 days. Currently, 3.4% of the shares of the company are sold short.

A number of equities analysts have issued reports on the stock. Citigroup Inc. raised their target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores from $78.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a report on Tuesday, August 15th. Wells Fargo & Company restated a “hold” rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Thursday, August 17th. Credit Suisse Group restated a “hold” rating and issued a $84.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Friday, August 18th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Finally, Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. restated a “buy” rating and issued a $90.00 price target on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a research note on Friday, August 18th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have given a hold rating, fourteen have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Wal-Mart Stores currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $85.58.

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

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Winfield Associates Inc. boosted its holdings 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 purchasing an additional 75 shares during the last quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC boosted its holdings 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 purchasing an additional 696 shares during the last quarter. Genovese Burford & Brothers Wealth & Retirement Plan Management LLC boosted its holdings 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 purchasing an additional 45 shares during the last quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. boosted its holdings 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 purchasing an additional 1,252 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Hudock Capital Group LLC boosted its holdings 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 purchasing an additional 7 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 30.18% of the company’s stock.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) opened at 87.31 on Wednesday. The firm has a market cap of $260.81 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.98 and a beta of 0.29. Wal-Mart Stores has a 52 week low of $65.28 and a 52 week high of $89.11. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $82.80 and its 200-day moving average is $78.92.

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

Wal-Mart Stores declared that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback program on Tuesday, October 10th that allows the company to buyback $20.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization allows the retailer to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

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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.

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