Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Morgan Stanley's shares have significantly outperformed the industry, over the last six months. The performance was supported by the company’s impressive earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in all the trailing four quarters. The company’s efforts to offload its non-core assets to lower balance sheet risk and cost saving initiatives (Project Stremline) will likely lead to improvement in profitability. However, continued fall in corporate loan balances remains a near-term concern. This is significantly hurting the company's interest income growth.”

A number of other research analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. ValuEngine cut Morgan Stanley from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, September 1st. HSBC Holdings plc set a $54.00 price objective on Morgan Stanley and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Friday, August 11th. Wells Fargo & Company assumed coverage on Morgan Stanley in a research note on Wednesday, August 9th. They set a market perform rating and a $48.00 price objective on the stock. Macquarie reaffirmed an outperform rating and set a $52.00 price objective (up from $51.00) on shares of Morgan Stanley in a research note on Saturday, July 22nd. Finally, Credit Suisse Group reaffirmed a neutral rating and set a $49.00 price objective (up from $47.00) on shares of Morgan Stanley in a research note on Saturday, July 22nd. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating, sixteen have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $48.52.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) traded up 0.379% during midday trading on Wednesday, hitting $46.395. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 3,663,675 shares. The company has a market cap of $85.21 billion, a PE ratio of 13.290 and a beta of 1.63. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $46.16 and a 200 day moving average of $44.50. Morgan Stanley has a 52-week low of $30.62 and a 52-week high of $48.90.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 19th. The financial services provider reported $0.87 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.76 by $0.11. Morgan Stanley had a return on equity of 9.83% and a net margin of 16.77%. The business had revenue of $9.50 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $9.05 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.75 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts expect that Morgan Stanley will post $3.51 EPS for the current year.

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Morgan Stanley declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase program on Wednesday, June 28th that permits the company to repurchase $5.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the financial services provider to repurchase up to 6.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are often an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, August 15th. Investors of record on Monday, July 31st were issued a $0.25 dividend. This is a positive change from Morgan Stanley’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. This represents a $1.00 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.16%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 27th. Morgan Stanley’s payout ratio is presently 28.65%.

In related news, CFO Jonathan Pruzan sold 25,767 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, July 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $46.68, for a total value of $1,202,803.56. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now directly owns 196,708 shares in the company, valued at approximately $9,182,329.44. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Chairman James P. Gorman sold 212,366 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $47.26, for a total transaction of $10,036,417.16. Following the completion of the transaction, the chairman now owns 1,602,609 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $75,739,301.34. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.35% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Parkside Financial Bank & Trust raised its holdings in Morgan Stanley by 9.1% in the 2nd quarter. Parkside Financial Bank & Trust now owns 2,275 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $101,000 after acquiring an additional 190 shares during the last quarter. Invictus RG bought a new stake in Morgan Stanley in the 1st quarter worth approximately $106,000. V Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in Morgan Stanley in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $106,000. Omnia Family Wealth LLC grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 5.8% in the 2nd quarter. Omnia Family Wealth LLC now owns 2,429 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $108,000 after purchasing an additional 134 shares during the period. Finally, FTB Advisors Inc. grew its position in Morgan Stanley by 8.1% in the 1st quarter. FTB Advisors Inc. now owns 2,605 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $112,000 after purchasing an additional 196 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 85.20% of the company’s stock.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is a financial holding company. The Company’s segments include Institutional Securities, Wealth Management and Investment Management. The Company’s Institutional Securities business segment provides investment banking, sales and trading, and other services to corporations, governments, financial institutions and high-to-ultra high net worth clients.

Analyst Recommendations for Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)

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