Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of W.W. Grainger Inc. (NYSE:GWW) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “During its second quarter conference call, Grainger revised sales growth guidance to 1%–4% for 2016 and earnings per share outlook to $11.20–$12.20. Given the deflationary environment, the company remains cautious on gross margins and lowered its margin expectations. In addition, higher interest expense, tax rates & lower capital expenditure will hurt earnings. Moreover, its Canadian business continues to be affected by low oil prices, impact of the fire in Fort McMurray and unfavorable foreign exchange. Nevertheless, Grainger will benefit from acquisitions, focus on restructuring and growth in eCommerce channel. Further, strong performance of single channel online businesses and attractive growth opportunities in the large and fragmented MRO market bode well for growth.”

Analyst Recommendations for W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW)

A number of other research firms have also recently commented on GWW. Credit Suisse Group AG started coverage on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Friday, June 17th. They set a neutral rating and a $222.00 price target on the stock. RBC Capital Markets restated an underperform rating and issued a $211.00 target price on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Monday. BMO Capital Markets restated a buy rating on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Friday, June 10th. Barclays PLC raised their target price on shares of W.W. Grainger from $209.00 to $213.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a report on Monday, July 18th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co. restated a hold rating on shares of W.W. Grainger in a report on Sunday, September 4th. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $228.75.

W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) opened at 220.50 on Tuesday. W.W. Grainger has a 52 week low of $176.85 and a 52 week high of $239.95. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $226.59 and a 200-day moving average price of $226.45. The stock has a market cap of $13.32 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.05 and a beta of 0.77.

W.W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 19th. The company reported $2.89 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $3.17 by $0.28. W.W. Grainger had a net margin of 6.91% and a return on equity of 31.26%. The firm had revenue of $2.60 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.58 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $3.27 EPS. On average, equities analysts anticipate that W.W. Grainger will post $11.54 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 8th were given a $1.22 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, August 4th. This represents a $4.88 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.21%. W.W. Grainger’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 44.40%.

In other W.W. Grainger news, VP Joseph C. High sold 1,722 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $220.00, for a total value of $378,840.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 7,531 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,656,820. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. 9.60% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Evercore Wealth Management LLC raised its stake in W.W. Grainger by 4.4% in the second quarter. Evercore Wealth Management LLC now owns 861 shares of the company’s stock valued at $195,000 after buying an additional 36 shares in the last quarter. Williams Jones & Associates LLC raised its stake in W.W. Grainger by 2,123.9% in the second quarter. Williams Jones & Associates LLC now owns 16,724 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,801,000 after buying an additional 15,972 shares in the last quarter. Kentucky Retirement Systems Insurance Trust Fund acquired a new stake in W.W. Grainger during the second quarter valued at approximately $518,000. Kentucky Retirement Systems acquired a new stake in W.W. Grainger during the second quarter valued at approximately $1,090,000. Finally, Mason Street Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in W.W. Grainger during the second quarter valued at approximately $1,727,000. 82.63% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

W.W. Grainger Company Profile

W.W. Grainger, Inc (Grainger) is a distributor of maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) supplies and other related products and services. The Company offers its products and services to businesses and institutions in the United States and Canada, with presence also in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

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