Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) Upgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research
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 analysts have also commented on WFM. Vetr lowered Whole Foods Market from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating and set a $38.47 target price for the company. in a research report on Monday, June 6th. Piper Jaffray Cos. reaffirmed a neutral rating and issued a $29.00 target price on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Sunday, June 12th. Northcoast Research lowered Whole Foods Market from a neutral rating to a sell rating and set a $24.00 target price for the company. in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. reaffirmed an outperform rating and issued a $38.00 target price on shares of Whole Foods Market in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. Finally, Wedbush reissued a neutral rating and set a $32.00 price objective (up from $29.00) on shares of Whole Foods Market in a report on Friday, June 17th. Seven analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have given a hold rating, five have given a buy rating and three have issued a strong buy rating to the company. Whole Foods Market has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $30.28.
Shares of Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) opened at 28.38 on Monday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $29.48 and a 200-day moving average price of $31.01. Whole Foods Market has a 52-week low of $27.67 and a 52-week high of $35.58. The firm has a market capitalization of $9.05 billion, a PE ratio of 20.13 and a beta of 0.82.
Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.37 EPS for the quarter, meeting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.37. Whole Foods Market had a return on equity of 15.55% and a net margin of 3.03%. The business earned $3.70 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.73 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.43 EPS. The firm’s revenue was up 2.0% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts forecast that Whole Foods Market will post $1.51 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently announced 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 of this dividend is Thursday, September 29th. This represents a $0.54 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.91%. Whole Foods Market’s dividend payout ratio is presently 37.76%.
In related news, Director Shahid M. Hassan sold 7,916 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, September 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $28.41, for a total value of $224,893.56. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 1.09% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in WFM. Pitcairn Co. boosted its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 0.4% in the second quarter. Pitcairn Co. now owns 15,469 shares of the company’s stock worth $496,000 after buying an additional 63 shares during the period. Reliance Trust Co. of Delaware boosted its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 0.9% in the second quarter. Reliance Trust Co. of Delaware now owns 9,439 shares of the company’s stock worth $302,000 after buying an additional 87 shares during the period. Cullinan Associates Inc. boosted its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 0.4% in the third quarter. Cullinan Associates Inc. now owns 23,500 shares of the company’s stock worth $666,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the period. First Manhattan Co. boosted its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 1.0% in the second quarter. First Manhattan Co. now owns 10,103 shares of the company’s stock worth $323,000 after buying an additional 103 shares during the period. Finally, Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Company LTD boosted its position in shares of Whole Foods Market by 0.5% in the second quarter. Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Company LTD now owns 25,878 shares of the company’s stock worth $828,000 after buying an additional 127 shares during the period. 86.38% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other 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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