Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Saturday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $112.00 target price on the retailer’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Wal-Mart Stores, which recently dropped 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.”

WMT has been the subject of a number of other reports. Wells Fargo & Co set a $101.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a neutral rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 27th. Jefferies Group set a $105.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, November 14th. Barclays set a $100.00 target price on Wal-Mart Stores and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Monday, November 13th. Vetr raised Wal-Mart Stores from a strong sell rating to a hold rating and set a $87.80 target price for the company in a research report on Monday, October 30th. Finally, ValuEngine raised Wal-Mart Stores from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. Seventeen equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, seventeen have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Wal-Mart Stores currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $100.30.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) opened at $99.37 on Friday. Wal-Mart Stores has a 12-month low of $67.56 and a 12-month high of $109.98. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52, a current ratio of 0.81 and a quick ratio of 0.19. The firm has a market capitalization of $294,371.91, a PE ratio of 22.69, a PEG ratio of 3.55 and a beta of 0.42.

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, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.03. Wal-Mart Stores had a return on equity of 16.92% and a net margin of 2.31%. The firm had revenue of $122.14 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $120.23 billion. During the same period last year, the company posted $0.98 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post 4.44 earnings per share for the current year.

In other Wal-Mart Stores news, insider Jacqueline P. Canney sold 2,065 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction dated Monday, December 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $96.99, for a total transaction of $200,284.35. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 19,060 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,848,629.40. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Jim C. Walton sold 1,319,133 shares of Wal-Mart Stores stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, December 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $97.61, for a total value of $128,760,572.13. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 11,057,224 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,079,295,634.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 12,419,588 shares of company stock valued at $1,207,333,538 in the last quarter. Company insiders own 51.39% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Voya Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 10.9% in the 2nd quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 2,983,092 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $225,760,000 after buying an additional 294,383 shares during the last quarter. Cutter & CO Brokerage Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 2.5% in the 2nd quarter. Cutter & CO Brokerage Inc. now owns 8,067 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $611,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the last quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board boosted its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 23.1% in the 2nd quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board now owns 2,095,792 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $158,610,000 after buying an additional 393,180 shares during the last quarter. Parkside Investments LLC purchased a new position in shares of Wal-Mart Stores in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $344,000. Finally, Numeric Investors LLC boosted its stake in shares of Wal-Mart Stores by 31.2% in the 2nd quarter. Numeric Investors LLC now owns 1,179,674 shares of the retailer’s stock worth $89,278,000 after buying an additional 280,430 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 30.62% of the company’s stock.

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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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