Morgan Stanley cut shares of Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE:BEN) from an overweight rating to an equal weight rating in a research report released on Thursday. Morgan Stanley currently has $38.00 target price on the closed-end fund’s stock.

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on BEN. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Franklin Resources from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Friday, November 25th. Credit Suisse Group AG restated an underperform rating on shares of Franklin Resources in a research note on Saturday, December 10th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated a neutral rating on shares of Franklin Resources in a research note on Thursday, January 12th. Citigroup Inc lifted their target price on Franklin Resources from $40.00 to $40.50 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 25th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG downgraded Franklin Resources from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 31st. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating, one has assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $38.88.

Analyst Recommendations for Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN)

Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) opened at 42.04 on Thursday. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $41.89 and a 200 day moving average price of $38.65. Franklin Resources has a 1-year low of $30.56 and a 1-year high of $44.35. The stock has a market capitalization of $23.77 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.17 and a beta of 1.78.

Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) last issued its earnings results on Friday, January 27th. The closed-end fund reported $0.77 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.68 by $0.09. Franklin Resources had a return on equity of 13.88% and a net margin of 26.77%. The company earned $1.56 billion during the quarter. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.74 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was down 11.2% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts predict that Franklin Resources will post $2.69 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, April 13th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 31st will be given a dividend of $0.20 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 29th. This represents a $0.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.90%. Franklin Resources’s dividend payout ratio is presently 26.94%.

In other Franklin Resources news, Chairman Gregory E. Johnson sold 25,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.18, for a total value of $1,079,500.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 2,162,863 shares in the company, valued at $93,392,424.34. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, insider Jennifer M. Johnson sold 16,835 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.90, for a total value of $739,056.50. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 1,521,037 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $66,773,524.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 21.60% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in BEN. State Street Corp increased its stake in Franklin Resources by 2.8% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 20,537,895 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $812,895,000 after buying an additional 559,012 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley increased its stake in Franklin Resources by 12.8% in the third quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 8,049,532 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $286,321,000 after buying an additional 916,293 shares during the period. Kiltearn Partners LLP increased its stake in Franklin Resources by 7.4% in the fourth quarter. Kiltearn Partners LLP now owns 5,899,600 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $233,506,000 after buying an additional 407,600 shares during the period. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its stake in Franklin Resources by 4.4% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,590,323 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $163,278,000 after buying an additional 192,794 shares during the period. Finally, Credit Suisse AG increased its stake in Franklin Resources by 44.6% in the third quarter. Credit Suisse AG now owns 2,412,366 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $85,807,000 after buying an additional 744,390 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 48.31% of the company’s stock.

About Franklin Resources

Franklin Resources, Inc is a holding company. The Company, along with its subsidiaries, operates as Franklin Templeton Investments. It is a global investment management company that provides investment management and related services to retail, institutional and high net-worth clients in jurisdictions around the world.

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