Rent-A-Center Inc. (NASDAQ:RCII) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report released on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Rent-A-Center disappointed investors with its bleak preliminary guidance for third-quarter 2016. The company now expects Core U.S. same store sales to be down nearly 12% in the quarter while Acceptance Now same store sales is estimated to be flat. Core U.S. gross profit is likely to be flat year over year. The company anticipates earnings per share both on the GAAP and non-GAAP basis to be in the range of $0.05 to $0.15 per share. The technical snags and outages after the execution of new point-of-sale system negatively impacted Core sales and compelled management to hold a conservative view. Moreover, Rent-A-Center has been disappointing investors with its top-line performance for the past four consecutive quarters. Accelerated point of sale system rollout, persistent sluggishness across the computers and tablets categories, headwinds across the oil-impacted markets and continued smartphones recast impacted the results.”

Separately, Jefferies Group initiated coverage on shares of Rent-A-Center in a report on Thursday. They issued a “hold” rating and a $10.00 target price for the company. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating, three have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $20.90.

Analyst Recommendations for Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII)

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) opened at 8.93 on Thursday. The stock’s market capitalization is $474.33 million. Rent-A-Center has a 52-week low of $8.00 and a 52-week high of $26.26. The company has a 50 day moving average of $12.16 and a 200-day moving average of $12.92.

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.41 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.49 by $0.08. Rent-A-Center had a negative net margin of 27.93% and a positive return on equity of 14.03%. The company earned $749.60 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $782.12 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.50 earnings per share. Rent-A-Center’s revenue for the quarter was down 8.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Rent-A-Center will post $1.73 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 20th. Shareholders of record on Monday, October 3rd will be given a dividend of $0.08 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 29th. This represents a $0.32 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.58%. Rent-A-Center’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is -1.93%.

In other news, CEO Robert Dale Davis bought 10,000 shares of Rent-A-Center stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 1st. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $10.87 per share, with a total value of $108,700.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 131,850 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,433,209.50. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Company insiders own 3.40% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Los Angeles Capital Management & Equity Research Inc. purchased a new position in Rent-A-Center during the first quarter worth approximately $338,000. Prudential Financial Inc. boosted its position in Rent-A-Center by 174.8% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 212,937 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,375,000 after buying an additional 135,446 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Group LTD boosted its position in Rent-A-Center by 13.0% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 81,983 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,301,000 after buying an additional 9,402 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its position in Rent-A-Center by 32.7% in the first quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 3,318,496 shares of the company’s stock worth $52,598,000 after buying an additional 817,206 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Royce & Associates LP boosted its position in Rent-A-Center by 16.5% in the first quarter. Royce & Associates LP now owns 939,879 shares of the company’s stock worth $14,897,000 after buying an additional 133,000 shares during the last quarter. 98.58% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Rent-A-Center

Rent-A-Center, Inc is a rent-to-own operator in North America. The Company provides an opportunity to obtain ownership of products, such as consumer electronics, appliances, computers (including tablets), smartphones and furniture (including accessories), under rental purchase agreements. The Company operates in four segments: Core U.S., Acceptance Now, Mexico and Franchising.

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