Sanderson Farms, Inc. (NASDAQ:SAFM) traded down 6.5% on Friday . The stock traded as low as $139.10 and last traded at $149.54. 1,876,152 shares traded hands during mid-day trading, an increase of 289% from the average session volume of 482,758 shares. The stock had previously closed at $160.00.

Several equities research analysts have recently weighed in on the stock. J P Morgan Chase & Co downgraded shares of Sanderson Farms from a “neutral” rating to an “underweight” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $129.00 to $134.00 in a research report on Friday. Mizuho downgraded shares of Sanderson Farms from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $151.00 to $160.00 in a research report on Monday, October 2nd. Stephens reissued an “equal weight” rating and issued a $170.00 target price (up previously from $145.00) on shares of Sanderson Farms in a research report on Monday, September 25th. ValuEngine raised shares of Sanderson Farms from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Finally, Barclays PLC set a $136.00 target price on shares of Sanderson Farms and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, August 25th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating, four have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $129.82.

The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $153.13 and its 200 day moving average price is $126.96. The firm has a market capitalization of $3.40 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.00 and a beta of 0.58.

Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, August 24th. The company reported $5.09 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $3.47 by $1.62. Sanderson Farms had a net margin of 8.77% and a return on equity of 22.21%. The firm had revenue of $931.90 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $921.40 million. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $2.42 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 28.0% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts expect that Sanderson Farms, Inc. will post $12.74 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 17th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, October 3rd will be issued a $0.32 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, October 2nd. This is an increase from Sanderson Farms’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.24. This represents a $1.28 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.86%. Sanderson Farms’s dividend payout ratio is 10.31%.

In other news, Director Robert C. Khayat sold 1,775 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $142.31, for a total transaction of $252,600.25. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 12,043 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,713,839.33. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director Fred L. Banks, Jr. sold 3,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $144.11, for a total transaction of $432,330.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 24,948 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,595,256.28. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 5,400 shares of company stock valued at $771,199 over the last ninety days. 5.66% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Advisor Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Sanderson Farms by 6.9% during the 2nd quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 961 shares of the company’s stock worth $112,000 after acquiring an additional 62 shares during the period. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Sanderson Farms by 144.9% during the 2nd quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 1,119 shares of the company’s stock worth $130,000 after acquiring an additional 662 shares during the period. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC bought a new position in shares of Sanderson Farms during the 2nd quarter worth about $125,000. Strs Ohio lifted its holdings in shares of Sanderson Farms by 180.0% during the 2nd quarter. Strs Ohio now owns 1,400 shares of the company’s stock worth $161,000 after acquiring an additional 900 shares during the period. Finally, Riverhead Capital Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Sanderson Farms by 49.9% during the 2nd quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 1,499 shares of the company’s stock worth $173,000 after acquiring an additional 499 shares during the period. 99.95% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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About Sanderson Farms

Sanderson Farms, Inc is a poultry processing company. The Company is engaged in the production, processing, marketing and distribution of fresh and frozen chicken, and also preparation, processing, marketing and distribution of processed and minimally prepared chicken. It sells ice pack, chill pack, bulk pack and frozen chicken, in whole, cut-up and boneless form, under the Sanderson Farms brand name to retailers, distributors, casual dining operators, customers reselling frozen chicken into export markets.

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