Republic Services (NYSE:RSG) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Wednesday. The brokerage presently has a $75.00 target price on the business services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price suggests a potential upside of 19.58% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Republic Services is focused on enhancing its operations by streamlining the cost structure, improving revenue quality and seeking growth through profitable investment opportunities. With diligent execution of operational plans, Republic Services continues to generate significant free cash flow, which is utilized for increased dividend payment, repurchasing shares and strategic acquisitions. The company is currently focusing on a series of quality acquisition opportunities for a healthy long-term growth within its top 25 markets. It is also transitioning to a fee-based recycling processing model to cover processing costs and generate a healthy ROI. The stock has outperformed the industry in the last three months. However, changing regulations impose new compliance requirements on Republic Services, which may alter its current method of doing business, and ultimately increase costs and compress margins.”

Several other research analysts have also recently issued reports on RSG. Bank of America increased their price objective on Republic Services from $70.00 to $73.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday. BMO Capital Markets cut their price objective on Republic Services from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, November 6th. Stifel Nicolaus upgraded Republic Services from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their price objective for the stock from $70.00 to $73.00 in a research report on Thursday, January 4th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group cut their price objective on Republic Services from $69.00 to $67.00 and set a “neutral” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, November 6th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating, four have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $69.00.

Republic Services (NYSE RSG) opened at $62.72 on Wednesday. The stock has a market capitalization of $20,960.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 26.58, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.23 and a beta of 0.54. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.93, a current ratio of 0.54 and a quick ratio of 0.51. Republic Services has a 52-week low of $57.53 and a 52-week high of $69.40.

Republic Services (NYSE:RSG) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 8th. The business services provider reported $0.61 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.57 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $2.56 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.52 billion. Republic Services had a return on equity of 10.58% and a net margin of 8.15%. Republic Services’s revenue was up 7.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $0.57 earnings per share. equities analysts expect that Republic Services will post 2.39 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Republic Services declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase plan on Thursday, November 2nd that permits the company to repurchase $2.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the business services provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, insider Donald W. Slager sold 32,421 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $64.00, for a total value of $2,074,944.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, CEO Donald W. Slager sold 98,132 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.19, for a total value of $6,299,093.08. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 322,541 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $20,703,906.79. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders sold 137,063 shares of company stock valued at $8,816,258. Company insiders own 0.40% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in RSG. American Century Companies Inc. increased its position in shares of Republic Services by 5.4% in the fourth quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 7,882,739 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $532,952,000 after buying an additional 405,985 shares in the last quarter. PGGM Investments increased its position in shares of Republic Services by 116.3% in the third quarter. PGGM Investments now owns 516,174 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $34,098,000 after buying an additional 277,585 shares in the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Republic Services by 4.3% in the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 5,426,154 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $366,863,000 after buying an additional 224,249 shares in the last quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. increased its position in shares of Republic Services by 14.3% in the third quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 1,586,935 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $104,833,000 after buying an additional 198,620 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in shares of Republic Services by 8.4% in the fourth quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,249,231 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $152,070,000 after buying an additional 174,621 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 59.57% of the company’s stock.

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About Republic Services

Republic Services, Inc is a provider of non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling and energy services. The Company’s segments include Group 1, Group 2 and Corporate entities. Its Group 1 and Group 2 segments provide integrated waste management services. Group 1 consists of geographic areas located in the western and portions of the mid-western United States.

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