Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) to Hold

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBA) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Walgreens Boots’ fourth-quarter 2017 performance was quite promising, with revenues and earnings surpassing estimates. The company’s receipt of approval from the FTC for the modified deal involving the purchase of a limited number of Rite Aid store buoys optimism. Moreover, this merger is expected to extend Walgreens Boots’ growth strategy and offer operational benefits. We are also upbeat about Walgreens Boots’ ‘Next Chapter plan’ focused on a multi-faceted cost-reduction initiative through fiscal 2017. On the flip side, over the last six months, Walgreens Boots has been trading below the broader industry. Declining sales at the Retail Pharmacy International was a disappointment. The company faces tough competition along with currency fluctuations. Also, slowdown in generic introduction continues to weigh on margins.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on WBA. Pivotal Research set a $85.00 price objective on Walgreens Boots Alliance and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Sunday, July 2nd. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an overweight rating and set a $95.00 price objective on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Monday, July 3rd. Guggenheim reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Monday, July 3rd. Citigroup Inc. reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research report on Monday, July 3rd. Finally, Leerink Swann set a $86.00 price target on Walgreens Boots Alliance and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, July 7th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $87.63.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 25th. The pharmacy operator reported $1.31 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.21 by $0.10. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a return on equity of 18.36% and a net margin of 3.45%. The company had revenue of $30.15 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $29.93 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.07 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.3% compared to the same quarter last year.

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The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, December 12th. Investors of record on Monday, November 13th will be given a dividend of $0.40 per share. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.40%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, November 10th. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s dividend payout ratio is currently 42.33%.

Walgreens Boots Alliance declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Wednesday, October 25th that authorizes the company to buyback $1.00 billion in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the pharmacy operator to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, Director John Anthony Lederer purchased 20,000 shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, October 26th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $67.00 per share, for a total transaction of $1,340,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 50,000 shares in the company, valued at $3,350,000. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. 13.50% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WBA. Hudock Capital Group LLC grew its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 0.5% in the second quarter. Hudock Capital Group LLC now owns 1,306 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $102,000 after purchasing an additional 6 shares during the period. Westside Investment Management Inc. grew its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 10.4% in the second quarter. Westside Investment Management Inc. now owns 1,325 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $102,000 after purchasing an additional 125 shares during the period. Reilly Financial Advisors LLC grew its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 7.9% in the second quarter. Reilly Financial Advisors LLC now owns 1,367 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $107,000 after purchasing an additional 100 shares during the period. Orrstown Financial Services Inc. grew its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 14.1% in the second quarter. Orrstown Financial Services Inc. now owns 1,728 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $135,000 after purchasing an additional 213 shares during the period. Finally, IHT Wealth Management LLC grew its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 46.3% in the second quarter. IHT Wealth Management LLC now owns 6,946 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $135,000 after purchasing an additional 2,199 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 60.24% of the company’s stock.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Company Profile

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc (Walgreens Boots Alliance) is a holding company. The Company is a global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. Walgreens Boots Alliance operates through three divisions, including Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. The Company’s products are marketed under a number of brands, which include No7, the Botanics range, Almus (generic medicines), Boots Pharmaceuticals and Soap & Glory (bathing and beauty brand).

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