Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE:ROK) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Rockwell Automation projects fiscal 2017 sales growth in the range of 4.5–7.5% and expects adjusted EPS in the range of $6.45–$6.75 per share. The company will benefit from the consistent growth in the consumer and transportation verticals. It expects heavy industries to grow in 2017 despite the prevailing softness in oil and gas and mining. Further, increased investment, acquisitions, product launches and share repurchases will support growth. The company has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, Rockwell Automation's results will be hurt by foreign currency headwinds, weakness in the heavy industry vertical, lack of higher margin project and weak commodity prices. Moreover, the company's shares have underperformed the Zacks categorized sub-industry in the past one year.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. Gabelli upgraded shares of Rockwell Automation from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 19th. Barclays PLC lifted their price target on shares of Rockwell Automation from $166.00 to $167.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 19th. Cowen and Company lifted their price target on shares of Rockwell Automation from $125.00 to $140.00 and gave the stock a market perform rating in a research note on Thursday, July 6th. Morgan Stanley lifted their price target on shares of Rockwell Automation from $153.00 to $167.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research note on Friday, April 28th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group reiterated a hold rating and set a $155.00 price target on shares of Rockwell Automation in a research note on Thursday, April 27th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $145.93.

Rockwell Automation (ROK) traded down 0.62% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $166.30. The stock had a trading volume of 485,032 shares. The stock has a market capitalization of $21.43 billion, a P/E ratio of 27.76 and a beta of 1.17. The company’s 50 day moving average is $159.63 and its 200-day moving average is $151.73. Rockwell Automation has a 52 week low of $111.52 and a 52 week high of $167.80. Rockwell Automation also was the target of unusually large options trading activity on Friday. Investors purchased 5,110 put options on the company. This is an increase of approximately 1,023% compared to the typical daily volume of 455 put options.

Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, April 26th. The industrial products company reported $1.55 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.40 by $0.15. Rockwell Automation had a net margin of 12.88% and a return on equity of 39.71%. The business had revenue of $1.55 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.48 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.37 earnings per share. Rockwell Automation’s revenue was up 7.9% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts expect that Rockwell Automation will post $6.67 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, September 11th. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 14th will be issued a dividend of $0.76 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, August 10th. This represents a $3.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.83%. Rockwell Automation’s dividend payout ratio is currently 50.75%.

In other Rockwell Automation news, Director Betty C. Alewine sold 7,173 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, April 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $158.52, for a total transaction of $1,137,063.96. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 20,584 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,262,975.68. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director William T. Jr/Wi Mccormick sold 432 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, May 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $158.07, for a total value of $68,286.24. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 9,109 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,439,859.63. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 129,605 shares of company stock valued at $20,469,855 over the last three months. Company insiders own 1.65% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Keel Point LLC boosted its stake in shares of Rockwell Automation by 0.3% in the first quarter. Keel Point LLC now owns 1,718 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $268,000 after buying an additional 5 shares during the period. Sfmg LLC boosted its stake in shares of Rockwell Automation by 0.4% in the first quarter. Sfmg LLC now owns 1,788 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $278,000 after buying an additional 7 shares during the period. WealthTrust Fairport LLC boosted its stake in shares of Rockwell Automation by 0.5% in the first quarter. WealthTrust Fairport LLC now owns 1,669 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $260,000 after buying an additional 8 shares during the period. Baystate Wealth Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Rockwell Automation by 1.1% in the first quarter. Baystate Wealth Management LLC now owns 1,850 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $278,000 after buying an additional 20 shares during the period. Finally, Strs Ohio boosted its stake in shares of Rockwell Automation by 0.4% in the first quarter. Strs Ohio now owns 5,253 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $817,000 after buying an additional 20 shares during the period. 73.52% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation, Inc (Rockwell Automation) is a provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions for manufacturers. The Company operates through two segments: Architecture & Software and Control Products & Solutions. The Architecture & Software segment contains various hardware, software and communication components of the Company’s integrated control and information architecture capable of controlling the customer’s industrial processes and connecting with their manufacturing enterprise.

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Analyst Recommendations for Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK)

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