Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Franklin Resources, Inc. (NYSE:BEN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Franklin Resources’ shares underperformed the industry over the past one year. The company’s third-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Lower revenues and elevated operating expenses were recorded. Net outflows were also an undermining factor. However, growth in assets under management (AUM) was witnessed. We remain optimistic as strategic acquisitions and solid distribution platform have well positioned the company for growth. Further, management expects expenses in fiscal 2017 to remain flat or decline slightly considering the impact of previous cost-cutting initiatives. Though volatile markets and unfavorable global economic conditions may affect its performance and hurt profitability, the company's involvement in steady capital deployment activities boosts shareholders’ confidence.”

Several other research firms have also weighed in on BEN. Wells Fargo & Company lowered Franklin Resources from an outperform rating to a market perform rating and set a $50.00 price objective for the company. in a research note on Monday, July 24th. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a hold rating and set a $44.00 price objective on shares of Franklin Resources in a research note on Friday, July 14th. Morgan Stanley reissued an underweight rating and set a $40.00 price objective (up from $39.00) on shares of Franklin Resources in a research note on Monday, July 10th. BidaskClub raised Franklin Resources from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, July 12th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG raised their price objective on Franklin Resources from $41.00 to $42.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 4th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $43.18.

Franklin Resources (BEN) opened at 43.80 on Wednesday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $45.30 and a 200-day moving average price of $42.79. The firm has a market capitalization of $24.43 billion, a PE ratio of 14.25 and a beta of 1.73. Franklin Resources has a 12-month low of $33.02 and a 12-month high of $47.65.

Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 28th. The closed-end fund reported $0.73 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.73. The firm had revenue of $1.61 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.62 billion. Franklin Resources had a return on equity of 13.96% and a net margin of 27.30%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 1.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company posted $0.77 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Franklin Resources will post $2.95 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, July 14th. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 30th were given a $0.20 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, June 28th. This represents a $0.80 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.83%. Franklin Resources’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 26.14%.

In other news, CFO Kenneth A. Lewis sold 17,141 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, June 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $44.51, for a total value of $762,945.91. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 124,021 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,520,174.71. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Company insiders own 21.60% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of BEN. IFP Advisors Inc increased its stake in shares of Franklin Resources by 16.1% in the second quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 2,685 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $120,000 after buying an additional 372 shares during the last quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Franklin Resources by 88.9% in the first quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC now owns 2,991 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $126,000 after buying an additional 1,408 shares during the last quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Franklin Resources during the first quarter worth about $193,000. Global X Management Co. LLC increased its stake in shares of Franklin Resources by 7.9% in the first quarter. Global X Management Co. LLC now owns 4,589 shares of the closed-end fund’s stock worth $193,000 after buying an additional 337 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Investment Centers of America Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Franklin Resources during the first quarter worth about $201,000. 45.47% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Franklin Resources Company Profile

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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Analyst Recommendations for Franklin Resources (NYSE:BEN)

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