Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Ball (NYSE:BLL) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Ball Corporation remains optimistic about the U.S. tax reform which will likely benefit its end markets. It expects free cash flow to be around $900 million and capital spending to be at least $600 million in 2018. The company will gain from expected synergy benefits from the Rexam acquisition. Focus on expanding geographic footprint and long-term strategy will also stoke growth. The stock has also outperformed the industry over the past year. However, Ball Corporation's performance will be affected by declines in domestic beer consumption, supply disruptions in North American beverage and competition in Brazil. The company is also expected to witness difficult manufacturing performance in the food and aerosol business in 2018. Also, demand volatility in the EMEA region remains another headwind.”

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A number of other analysts have also commented on the stock. ValuEngine lowered shares of Ball from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Monday, April 2nd. TheStreet upgraded Ball from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a report on Tuesday, March 6th. KeyCorp upgraded Ball from an underweight rating to a sector weight rating in a report on Monday, February 12th. JPMorgan Chase reiterated an overweight rating and issued a $48.00 target price (up previously from $47.00) on shares of Ball in a report on Thursday, February 8th. Finally, Citigroup upgraded Ball from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $45.00 target price on the stock in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $45.38.

BLL stock opened at $40.76 on Friday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.54, a current ratio of 0.92 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.61. Ball has a one year low of $35.60 and a one year high of $43.24. The stock has a market cap of $14,241.96, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.98, a PEG ratio of 3.21 and a beta of 0.85.

Ball (NYSE:BLL) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 7th. The industrial products company reported $0.60 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.52 by $0.08. Ball had a net margin of 3.63% and a return on equity of 19.24%. The company had revenue of $2.75 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.64 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.44 earnings per share. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 8.9% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts predict that Ball will post 2.3 EPS for the current year.

In related news, VP Scott C. Morrison sold 2,591 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, January 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $38.62, for a total value of $100,064.42. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 390,052 shares in the company, valued at $15,063,808.24. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Director R David Hoover sold 2,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $40.71, for a total value of $89,562.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 194,594 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,921,921.74. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 41,774 shares of company stock worth $1,642,983 in the last 90 days. 2.70% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB increased its holdings in Ball by 16.1% in the fourth quarter. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB now owns 30,310 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $1,147,000 after buying an additional 4,192 shares during the last quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. grew its holdings in Ball by 108.5% during the fourth quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 72,415 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $2,741,000 after purchasing an additional 37,684 shares during the last quarter. BRITISH COLUMBIA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT Corp grew its holdings in Ball by 6.1% during the fourth quarter. BRITISH COLUMBIA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT Corp now owns 314,856 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $11,917,000 after purchasing an additional 17,986 shares during the last quarter. Compagnie Lombard Odier SCmA grew its holdings in Ball by 1,696.0% during the fourth quarter. Compagnie Lombard Odier SCmA now owns 215,520 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $8,158,000 after purchasing an additional 203,520 shares during the last quarter. Finally, OLD Mutual Customised Solutions Proprietary Ltd. grew its holdings in Ball by 39.0% during the fourth quarter. OLD Mutual Customised Solutions Proprietary Ltd. now owns 22,114 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $837,000 after purchasing an additional 6,200 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 88.70% of the company’s stock.

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About Ball

Ball Corporation supplies metal packaging products to the beverage, food, personal care, and household products industries. It operates in five segments: Beverage Packaging, North and Central America; Beverage Packaging, South America; Beverage Packaging, Europe; Food and Aerosol Packaging; and Aerospace.

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