Waste Management (NYSE:WM) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Waste Management is focusing on the core business activities to instill price and cost discipline in order to achieve better margins. The company's successful cost-reduction initiatives have helped it in accomplishing remarkable gross margin expansion and EBITDA growth over the quarters. With strong yield, volume, and cost performance in the third quarter, the company has lifted its guidance for 2017. Waste Management has also outperformed the industry in the last three months. However, stringent government regulations are likely to erode profitability as compliance with such regulations increases operating costs. The pricing environment remains challenging and highly competitive due to aggressive bidding by smaller competitors. The company expects volumes to be down due to lower national counts as it strives for improved margin growth and pricing. Decline in average recycling commodity prices and recycling volumes also remain headwinds.”

Several other brokerages have also recently issued reports on WM. BMO Capital Markets restated a “buy” rating and issued a $85.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Friday, October 13th. KeyCorp restated a “buy” rating and issued a $88.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Macquarie upgraded Waste Management from a “neutral” rating to an “outperform” rating in a research note on Wednesday, January 3rd. Bank of America reduced their price objective on Waste Management from $85.00 to $83.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus restated a “buy” rating and issued a $100.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Waste Management currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $86.78.

Shares of Waste Management (NYSE WM) opened at $88.27 on Friday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.68, a current ratio of 0.71 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.60. Waste Management has a 12 month low of $69.00 and a 12 month high of $88.66. The company has a market capitalization of $38,330.00, a PE ratio of 28.38, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.65 and a beta of 0.75.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The business services provider reported $0.90 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.88 by $0.02. Waste Management had a return on equity of 25.61% and a net margin of 9.66%. The company had revenue of $3.72 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.71 billion. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.84 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 4.7% compared to the same quarter last year. equities research analysts predict that Waste Management will post 3.2 EPS for the current year.

Waste Management announced that its board has approved a stock repurchase program on Thursday, December 14th that authorizes the company to buyback $1.25 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the business services provider to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, SVP Barry H. Caldwell sold 1,650 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $81.10, for a total transaction of $133,815.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 0.19% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Bruderman Asset Management LLC acquired a new stake in Waste Management during the second quarter worth about $110,000. FTB Advisors Inc. grew its holdings in Waste Management by 4.3% during the second quarter. FTB Advisors Inc. now owns 1,585 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $116,000 after acquiring an additional 65 shares during the period. IHT Wealth Management LLC grew its holdings in Waste Management by 19.0% during the second quarter. IHT Wealth Management LLC now owns 2,314 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $835,000 after acquiring an additional 369 shares during the period. Horan Capital Advisors LLC. acquired a new stake in Waste Management during the third quarter worth about $186,000. Finally, MPS Loria Financial Planners LLC acquired a new stake in Waste Management during the second quarter worth about $182,000. 74.89% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc (WM) is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is a provider of waste management environmental services. The Company’s segments include Solid Waste and Other. The Company’s Solid Waste segment includes its solid waste business. The Other segment includes its Strategic Business Solutions (WMSBS) organization; its landfill gas-to-energy operations and third-party subcontract and administration services managed by its Energy and Environmental Services and WM Renewable Energy organizations; its recycling brokerage services, and its service offerings and solutions, such as portable self-storage and long distance moving services, fluorescent lamp recycling and interests it holds in oil and gas producing properties.

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