Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.
According to Zacks, “Whole Foods is revamping its pricing strategy and concentrating on value offerings. Moreover, it has launched a new store concept to target millennials and stave off competition that has been weighing upon its performance. More and more companies are entering as well as expanding their presence in the Organic & Natural food business. This may dent the company’s sales and margins. Whole Foods saw its comps declining for the fourth straight quarter. Comps fell 2.6% in third-quarter fiscal 2016 and 2.4% during the first three weeks of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the company is trying to spur sales through store openings, adoption of digital route and home delivery services. Sales rose 2% and also beat the estimate during the third quarter. Management projects sales growth of about 2% but comps decline of 2.4% in the fourth quarter. The company envisions earnings per share in the band of $0.23-$0.24 for the final quarter.”
A number of other research firms also recently weighed in on WFM. Vetr downgraded shares of Whole Foods Market from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $38.47 price target for the company. in a research report on Monday, June 6th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $29.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Sunday, June 12th. Northcoast Research downgraded shares of Whole Foods Market from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $24.00 price target for the company. in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. reiterated an “outperform” rating and issued a $38.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Finally, Wedbush reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $32.00 price target (up from $29.00) on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Friday, June 17th. Seven research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have given a hold rating, five have given a buy rating and three have given a strong buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $30.28.
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) opened at 28.03 on Monday. The firm has a market cap of $8.94 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.88 and a beta of 0.82. Whole Foods Market has a 12-month low of $27.67 and a 12-month high of $35.58. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $29.39 and its 200 day moving average price is $30.97.
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.37 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.37. The firm earned $3.70 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.73 billion. Whole Foods Market had a net margin of 3.03% and a return on equity of 15.55%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.43 earnings per share. Analysts forecast that Whole Foods Market will post $1.51 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 14th. Investors of record on Monday, October 3rd will be paid a $0.135 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 29th. This represents a $0.54 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.93%. Whole Foods Market’s dividend payout ratio is 37.76%.
In related news, Director Shahid M. Hassan sold 7,916 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, September 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.41, for a total value of $224,893.56. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 1.09% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. First Manhattan Co. raised its position in Whole Foods Market by 2.0% in the first quarter. First Manhattan Co. now owns 10,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $311,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the last quarter. Nisa Investment Advisors L.L.C. raised its position in Whole Foods Market by 1.1% in the first quarter. Nisa Investment Advisors L.L.C. now owns 57,978 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,804,000 after buying an additional 650 shares during the last quarter. Los Angeles Capital Management & Equity Research Inc. purchased a new position in Whole Foods Market during the first quarter valued at about $1,019,000. Teachers Advisors Inc. raised its position in Whole Foods Market by 19.0% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. now owns 494,125 shares of the company’s stock valued at $15,372,000 after buying an additional 79,017 shares during the last quarter. Finally, FDO Partners LLC purchased a new position in Whole Foods Market during the first quarter valued at about $240,000. 86.38% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
Whole Foods Market Company Profile
Whole Foods Market, Inc is engaged in operating natural and organic foods supermarkets. The Company’s brands include Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Engine 2 Plant-Strong. As of April 10, 2016, the Company operated 441 stores, which include 421 stores in 42 states in the United States and the District of Columbia, 11 stores in Canada, and 9 stores in the United Kingdom.
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