Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Acuity Brands Inc (NYSE:AYI) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Acuity Brands lost 27.3% so far this year. Acuity Brands operates in a highly competitive industry that is affected by volatility owing to a number of general business and economic factors. Higher spending on research and development of energy efficient lighting products may dent margins and thereby the bottom line of the company. Gross profit margin in the last quarter decreased 200 basis points year over year. The company’s profits in the last quarter were adversely impacted by higher-than-normal supply chain costs, including increased quality expenses and inbound freight charges.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the company. Deutsche Bank AG increased their target price on Acuity Brands from $215.00 to $245.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, June 30th. Wolfe Research started coverage on Acuity Brands in a research note on Tuesday, July 11th. They issued an outperform rating and a $237.00 target price for the company. Roth Capital reiterated a sell rating and issued a $150.00 target price on shares of Acuity Brands in a research note on Tuesday, July 4th. Cowen and Company lowered their target price on Acuity Brands from $230.00 to $226.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a research note on Friday, June 30th. Finally, BidaskClub lowered Acuity Brands from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Monday, July 31st. Four analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Acuity Brands currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $216.53.

Acuity Brands (AYI) opened at 161.42 on Tuesday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $181.93 and a 200 day moving average price of $185.88. Acuity Brands has a 52 week low of $153.28 and a 52 week high of $267.08. The stock has a market cap of $6.96 billion, a PE ratio of 22.52 and a beta of 1.42.

Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, June 29th. The electronics maker reported $2.15 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.03 by $0.12. Acuity Brands had a return on equity of 19.89% and a net margin of 9.04%. The business had revenue of $891.60 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $878.66 million. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $2.06 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that Acuity Brands will post $8.32 earnings per share for the current year.

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Acuity Brands declared that its board has approved a share repurchase program on Thursday, June 29th that permits the company to buyback 2,000,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the electronics maker to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In other Acuity Brands news, EVP Mark A. Black sold 5,427 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $205.29, for a total transaction of $1,114,108.83. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director Peter C. Browning sold 970 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, July 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $200.05, for a total value of $194,048.50. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 1,000 shares in the company, valued at approximately $200,050. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 1.40% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC lifted its holdings in Acuity Brands by 661.1% during the 2nd quarter. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC now owns 548 shares of the electronics maker’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 476 shares during the last quarter. Seven Bridges Advisors LLC bought a new position in Acuity Brands during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $117,000. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC lifted its holdings in Acuity Brands by 11.0% during the 2nd quarter. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC now owns 586 shares of the electronics maker’s stock worth $119,000 after buying an additional 58 shares during the last quarter. QS Investors LLC lifted its holdings in Acuity Brands by 1.2% during the 2nd quarter. QS Investors LLC now owns 588 shares of the electronics maker’s stock worth $120,000 after buying an additional 7 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Van ECK Associates Corp lifted its holdings in Acuity Brands by 7.7% during the 1st quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 614 shares of the electronics maker’s stock worth $125,000 after buying an additional 44 shares during the last quarter.

About Acuity Brands

Acuity Brands, Inc is a provider of lighting solutions for commercial, institutional, industrial, infrastructure and residential applications throughout North America and other international markets. The Company operates through North American segment. The Company offers a portfolio of indoor and outdoor lighting and building management solutions for commercial, institutional, industrial, infrastructure and residential applications.

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