Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Accenture is one of world’s leading providers of management consultancy, technology and outsourcing services. Estimates have been stable ahead of this IT management solution provider’s 4Q16 earnings release. The company has a mixed record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. Although Accenture’s long-term prospect looks promising due to sustained focus on new and innovative product launches, continuous investments in enhancing digital and marketing capabilities as well as acquisitions, we are cautious about its near-term performance amid a strained IT spending scenario. Gartner predicts worldwide IT spending to remain flat year over year in 2016 at $3.41 trillion, due to currency fluctuations triggered by the Brexit episode. Moreover, stiff competition and an uncertain macroeconomic environment remain major concerns.”

Analyst Recommendations for Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN)

A number of other research firms also recently weighed in on ACN. Barclays PLC raised their price target on Accenture PLC from $110.00 to $112.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research report on Thursday, July 7th. BMO Capital Markets restated a hold rating on shares of Accenture PLC in a research report on Thursday, June 30th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Accenture PLC in a research note on Tuesday, July 19th. Sanford C. Bernstein reaffirmed a market perform rating and set a $112.00 price objective (up from $104.00) on shares of Accenture PLC in a research note on Wednesday, June 22nd. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus raised their price objective on Accenture PLC from $116.00 to $128.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, May 20th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating, thirteen have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $120.54.

Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN) opened at 110.50 on Wednesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $68.79 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.68 and a beta of 1.17. Accenture PLC has a 1-year low of $91.40 and a 1-year high of $120.78. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $113.32 and its 200-day moving average price is $113.96.

Accenture PLC (NYSE:ACN) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, June 23rd. The company reported $1.41 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.41. Accenture PLC had a return on equity of 47.61% and a net margin of 11.24%. The business had revenue of $8.43 billion for the quarter. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.30 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 8.6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts expect that Accenture PLC will post $5.33 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, COO Johan Deblaere sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $109.88, for a total value of $549,400.00. Following the sale, the chief operating officer now directly owns 134,650 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $14,795,342. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, General Counsel Chad T. Jerdee sold 4,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, July 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $113.35, for a total transaction of $453,400.00. Following the completion of the sale, the general counsel now directly owns 28,755 shares in the company, valued at $3,259,379.25. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.17% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of ACN. Norges Bank purchased a new stake in Accenture PLC during the fourth quarter worth $569,431,000. FMR LLC raised its stake in Accenture PLC by 39.4% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 12,730,924 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,442,286,000 after buying an additional 3,595,128 shares during the period. WCM Investment Management CA purchased a new stake in Accenture PLC during the second quarter worth $223,849,000. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. purchased a new stake in Accenture PLC during the second quarter worth $175,381,000. Finally, Janus Capital Management LLC raised its stake in Accenture PLC by 59.8% in the second quarter. Janus Capital Management LLC now owns 3,670,692 shares of the company’s stock worth $415,853,000 after buying an additional 1,373,714 shares during the period. 77.21% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Accenture PLC

Accenture plc is engaged in providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Company’s business is structured around five operating groups, which together consists of 19 industry groups serving clients in industries globally. The Company’s segment includes Communications, Media & Technology, Financial Services, Health & Public Service, Products and Resources.

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