Wall Street analysts predict that UniFirst Corp (NYSE:UNF) will post $431.81 million in sales for the current quarter, Zacks Investment Research reports. Two analysts have issued estimates for UniFirst’s earnings. The highest sales estimate is $433.00 million and the lowest is $430.62 million. UniFirst reported sales of $419.26 million in the same quarter last year, which would indicate a positive year over year growth rate of 3%. The company is scheduled to report its next quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, March 27th.

On average, analysts expect that UniFirst will report full year sales of $1.78 billion for the current financial year, with estimates ranging from $1.78 billion to $1.79 billion. For the next fiscal year, analysts anticipate that the firm will report sales of $1.84 billion. Zacks Investment Research’s sales calculations are an average based on a survey of research analysts that follow UniFirst.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, January 3rd. The textile maker reported $1.88 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.92 by ($0.04). UniFirst had a net margin of 9.44% and a return on equity of 8.69%. The company had revenue of $438.60 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $433.21 million. During the same period last year, the business posted $1.67 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis.

A number of brokerages have issued reports on UNF. Robert W. Baird dropped their target price on shares of UniFirst from $170.00 to $152.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a report on Friday, January 4th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of UniFirst from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, January 11th. Finally, ValuEngine cut shares of UniFirst from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, January 4th.

UniFirst stock traded down $0.36 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $147.48. The company had a trading volume of 74,938 shares, compared to its average volume of 111,846. UniFirst has a 1 year low of $132.38 and a 1 year high of $193.05. The stock has a market cap of $2.83 billion, a PE ratio of 19.80 and a beta of 0.67.

UniFirst announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, January 3rd that permits the company to buyback $100.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the textile maker to reacquire up to 3.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 29th. Investors of record on Friday, March 8th will be given a dividend of $0.1125 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 7th. This represents a $0.45 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.31%. UniFirst’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 6.04%.

In related news, major shareholder The Ronald D. Croatti Trust – 1 sold 5,584 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $141.19, for a total transaction of $788,404.96. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, VP Cynthia Croatti sold 2,288 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, December 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $141.20, for a total transaction of $323,065.60. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 10,883 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,536,679.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 18,901 shares of company stock worth $2,646,770. 1.00% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. NumerixS Investment Technologies Inc acquired a new stake in UniFirst during the fourth quarter worth approximately $28,000. KBC Group NV acquired a new position in shares of UniFirst in the 4th quarter valued at $55,000. LS Investment Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in shares of UniFirst by 95.8% in the 4th quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 836 shares of the textile maker’s stock valued at $120,000 after purchasing an additional 409 shares during the last quarter. Quantamental Technologies LLC acquired a new position in shares of UniFirst in the 4th quarter valued at $143,000. Finally, Magnus Financial Group LLC acquired a new position in shares of UniFirst in the 4th quarter valued at $214,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 77.34% of the company’s stock.

UniFirst Company Profile

UniFirst Corporation provides workplace uniforms and protective work wear clothing in the United States, Europe, and Canada. The company operates through U.S. Rental and Cleaning, Canadian Rental and Cleaning, Manufacturing, Specialty Garments Rental and Cleaning, and First Aid segments. It designs, manufactures, personalizes, rents, cleans, delivers, and sells a range of uniforms and protective clothing, including shirts, pants, jackets, coveralls, lab coats, smocks, and aprons; and specialized protective wear, such as flame resistant and high visibility garments.

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