Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) from a hold rating to a strong sell rating in a report released on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Stiff competition, food price deflation, an aggressive promotional environment and waning store traffic are the headwinds with which Whole Foods has been grappling. These have hurt the stock’s performance that has underperformed the industry in the past three months. The company’s first-quarter fiscal 2017 results was the reflection of the same. The top line lagged the estimate for the second consecutive quarter, while the bottom line declined for the third quarter in row. Comps also slid for the sixth straight quarter. Lower-than-expected sales compelled management to trim its forecasts. As a result, the Zacks Consensus Estimate has been witnessing a downtrend. Nevertheless, the company is trying to spur sales through store openings, adoption of digital route and home delivery services. Whole Foods is revamping its pricing strategy, concentrating on value offerings and has launched a new store concept to target millennials.”

Several other analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Vetr cut shares of Whole Foods Market from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $29.97 price target on the stock. in a report on Monday, December 5th. Credit Suisse Group reaffirmed an outperform rating and issued a $40.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a report on Thursday, October 27th. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of Whole Foods Market in a report on Thursday, January 19th. Royal Bank Of Canada reaffirmed an outperform rating and issued a $37.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a report on Friday, February 3rd. Finally, Barclays PLC reaffirmed an equal weight rating and issued a $30.00 price target on shares of Whole Foods Market in a report on Friday, November 4th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have given a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $29.53.

Analyst Recommendations for Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM)

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) opened at 30.56 on Monday. Whole Foods Market has a 12 month low of $27.67 and a 12 month high of $35.58. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $30.42 and its 200 day moving average is $30.04. The stock has a market capitalization of $9.73 billion, a P/E ratio of 22.06 and a beta of 0.75.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, February 8th. The company reported $0.39 EPS for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.39. Whole Foods Market had a net margin of 2.81% and a return on equity of 14.57%. The business had revenue of $4.90 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.99 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.46 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.8% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Whole Foods Market will post $1.35 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other Whole Foods Market news, Director John Elstrott sold 4,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $30.42, for a total value of $136,890.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 66,109 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,011,035.78. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP James P. Sud sold 1,700 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, December 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $31.30, for a total transaction of $53,210.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 185,322 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,800,578.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 10,792 shares of company stock valued at $334,151 in the last quarter. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of WFM. BlackRock Advisors LLC increased its stake in shares of Whole Foods Market by 184.5% in the third quarter. BlackRock Advisors LLC now owns 3,922,163 shares of the company’s stock worth $111,193,000 after buying an additional 2,543,384 shares during the last quarter. Equity Investment Corp Acquisition Inc purchased a new stake in Whole Foods Market during the fourth quarter worth approximately $67,167,000. Morgan Stanley raised its stake in Whole Foods Market by 85.8% in the third quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 4,662,898 shares of the company’s stock worth $132,192,000 after buying an additional 2,152,964 shares in the last quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. purchased a new stake in Whole Foods Market during the fourth quarter worth approximately $48,352,000. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in Whole Foods Market by 91.4% in the third quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,803,770 shares of the company’s stock worth $79,488,000 after buying an additional 1,338,802 shares in the last quarter. 85.46% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market, Inc is engaged in the business of natural and organic foods supermarket. The Company operates approximately 456 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Its stores have an average size of approximately 39,000 square feet, and are supported by its distribution centers, bake house facilities, commissary kitchens, seafood-processing facilities, a produce procurement center, and a specialty coffee and tea procurement and roasting operation, among others.

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