Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) to Sell

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Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Over the past six months, Walgreens Boots has been outperforming the S&P 500 market. However, within Walgreen Boots' Retail Pharmacy USA division, the company has been making good progress on account of increasing prescription volume. The company is launching a new phase of transformational cost management to counteract margin pressure.  Walgreens has been gaining on account of strategic tie-ups as well. We are looking forward to Walgreens Boots’ recent alliance with Alphabet’s life sciences and healthcare segment Verily. The company launching next-day prescription delivery service with FedEx buoys optimism.  Overall, the guidance for fiscal 2019 looks promising. On the flip side, tough market conditions, particularly in retail, have been leading to sluggishness in Walgreens' Retail Pharmacy International division. The ongoing generic drug inflation is hurting Walgreens' pharmacy margin.”

Several other equities research analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. BidaskClub cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, March 6th. ValuEngine cut shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Friday, March 1st. Bank of America reaffirmed an underperform rating and issued a $62.00 price target (down previously from $69.00) on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Friday, March 8th. Robert W. Baird lowered their price target on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $70.00 to $67.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research report on Friday, March 1st. Finally, UBS Group lowered their price target on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $70.00 to $65.00 and set a sell rating for the company in a research report on Monday, March 4th. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $77.94.

Walgreens Boots Alliance stock opened at $61.82 on Monday. The stock has a market capitalization of $57.55 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.27, a P/E/G ratio of 1.00 and a beta of 0.88. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44, a current ratio of 0.80 and a quick ratio of 0.36. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a 1 year low of $59.07 and a 1 year high of $86.31.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, December 20th. The pharmacy operator reported $1.46 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.43 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $33.79 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $33.90 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a net margin of 3.96% and a return on equity of 22.17%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 9.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $1.28 EPS. As a group, research analysts expect that Walgreens Boots Alliance will post 6.41 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, March 12th. Investors of record on Friday, February 15th were paid a dividend of $0.44 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, February 14th. This represents a $1.76 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.85%. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 29.24%.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. BCJ Capital Management LLC bought a new position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance during the 4th quarter worth approximately $672,000. MUFG Securities EMEA plc raised its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 81.5% during the 4th quarter. MUFG Securities EMEA plc now owns 41,500 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $2,836,000 after acquiring an additional 18,632 shares in the last quarter. Norges Bank bought a new position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance during the 4th quarter worth approximately $589,781,000. Actinver Wealth Management Inc. bought a new position in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance during the 4th quarter worth approximately $1,135,000. Finally, Financial Advocates Investment Management raised its stake in shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance by 10.2% during the 4th quarter. Financial Advocates Investment Management now owns 2,013 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock worth $74,000 after acquiring an additional 187 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.52% of the company’s stock.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Company Profile

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc operates as a pharmacy-led health and wellbeing company. It operates through three segments: Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International, and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. The Retail Pharmacy USA segment sells prescription drugs and an assortment of retail products, including health, beauty, personal care, consumable, and general merchandise products through its retail drugstores and convenient care clinics.

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