Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Estimates have been revised downward as Wal-Mart’s third quarter fiscal 2017 top-line marginally fell short of expectations after surpassing the same in the preceding two quarters.  Though total revenues increased slightly, earnings per share declined year over year but came within the company’s guided range. The company has narrowed its fiscal 2017 guidance to reflect the impact of the gain from the sale of Yihaodian in China. Decline in international revenues has been a major concern for Wal-Mart for quite some time now. Moreover, stiff competition from both brick & mortar and online retailers, and foreign currency headwinds pose as concerns. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart is aggressively expanding its E-commerce platform, foraying into new markets, expanding product assortments and implementing innovative ways to drive traffic.”

Several other research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Robert W. Baird set a $80.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Saturday, November 19th. Deutsche Bank AG reaffirmed a hold rating and issued a $70.00 target price on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Thursday, August 18th. Buckingham Research reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Thursday, August 18th. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of Wal-Mart Stores in a report on Friday, September 9th. Finally, Vetr raised shares of Wal-Mart Stores from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $73.70 target price for the company in a report on Wednesday, September 7th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have given a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. Wal-Mart Stores presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $74.96.

Analyst Recommendations for Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT)

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) opened at 71.37 on Tuesday. The stock has a market capitalization of $220.46 billion, a PE ratio of 15.48 and a beta of 0.10. The company’s 50 day moving average is $69.58 and its 200-day moving average is $71.28. Wal-Mart Stores has a 52 week low of $58.32 and a 52 week high of $75.19.

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, November 17th. The retailer reported $0.98 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.96 by $0.02. Wal-Mart Stores had a net margin of 2.98% and a return on equity of 17.71%. The company earned $118.20 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $118.69 billion. During the same period last year, the company posted $1.03 EPS. Wal-Mart Stores’s revenue was up .5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts predict that Wal-Mart Stores will post $4.34 earnings per share for the current year.

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In related news, major shareholder Alice L. Walton sold 2,100,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, September 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $71.44, for a total value of $150,024,000.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 6,748,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $482,118,555.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, CEO C Douglas Mcmillon sold 75,063 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $69.08, for a total transaction of $5,185,352.04. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 51.55% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of WMT. Logan Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 18.5% in the first quarter. Logan Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,041 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $345,000 after buying an additional 787 shares in the last quarter. Phocas Financial Corp. bought a new position in Wal-Mart Stores during the first quarter valued at approximately $567,000. BlueMountain Capital Management LLC increased its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 38.5% in the first quarter. BlueMountain Capital Management LLC now owns 9,255 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $634,000 after buying an additional 2,572 shares in the last quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA increased its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 5.5% in the second quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 760,854 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $55,558,000 after buying an additional 39,954 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Nexus Investment Management Inc. increased its position in Wal-Mart Stores by 1.7% in the second quarter. Nexus Investment Management Inc. now owns 193,975 shares of the retailer’s stock valued at $14,164,000 after buying an additional 3,175 shares in the last quarter. 28.67% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Wal-Mart Stores

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company offers an assortment of merchandise and services at everyday low prices (EDLP). The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club.

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