Zacks Investment Research Lowers Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) to Hold

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Walgreens Boots reported an impressive first quarter of fiscal 2018. We are encouraged by the increase in sales at the Retail Pharmacy International. Moreover, Walgreens Boots has been gaining on account of strategic tie-ups, which brought more patients to its U.S. pharmacies. We are particularly upbeat about the limited number of Rite Aid stores acquisition deal for which the company got regulatory approval recently. Also, we are upbeat about the company expanding global footprint with its decision to acquire a 40% stake in Sinopharm Holding Guoda Drugstores in China which should provide a strong impetus to Walgreens Boots’ worldwide retail pharmacy business. Accordingly, over the past three months, Walgreens Boots has been trading above the broader industry. However, declining sales at the Retail Pharmacy was a disappointment. The company faces tough competition along with currency fluctuations.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on the stock. Morgan Stanley lowered shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and reduced their price objective for the company from $95.00 to $85.00 in a research note on Friday, October 6th. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Friday, November 10th. Vetr upgraded shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, December 12th. Robert W. Baird reiterated an “outperform” rating and issued a $80.00 price target (down from $90.00) on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance in a research note on Thursday, October 19th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, Citigroup reduced their price target on shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance from $95.00 to $81.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, November 2nd. Ten research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, fourteen have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. Walgreens Boots Alliance presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $86.35.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) traded up $0.63 during trading hours on Monday, reaching $77.10. 1,825,562 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 6,449,631. The company has a market cap of $76,190.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.30, a P/E/G ratio of 1.29 and a beta of 1.22. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.48, a quick ratio of 0.47 and a current ratio of 0.96. Walgreens Boots Alliance has a 1-year low of $63.82 and a 1-year high of $88.00.

Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 4th. The pharmacy operator reported $1.28 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.27 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $30.74 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $30.39 billion. Walgreens Boots Alliance had a net margin of 3.19% and a return on equity of 19.15%. Walgreens Boots Alliance’s revenue was up 7.9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.10 EPS. sell-side analysts anticipate that Walgreens Boots Alliance will post 5.71 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Walgreens Boots Alliance declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase program on Wednesday, October 25th that allows the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the pharmacy operator to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other Walgreens Boots Alliance news, insider Stefano Pessina acquired 98,858 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, January 15th. The shares were bought at an average price of $76.07 per share, with a total value of $7,520,128.06. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director William C. Foote sold 2,736 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $67.37, for a total transaction of $184,324.32. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 16,415 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,105,878.55. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 14.80% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. Hudock Capital Group LLC lifted its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 0.5% during 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 in the last quarter. Northern Capital Management LLC lifted its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 0.4% during the second quarter. Northern Capital Management LLC now owns 6,635 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $520,000 after purchasing an additional 25 shares in the last quarter. MAI Capital Management lifted its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 0.6% during the second quarter. MAI Capital Management now owns 5,272 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $413,000 after purchasing an additional 34 shares in the last quarter. Truepoint Inc. lifted its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 0.5% during the second quarter. Truepoint Inc. now owns 8,614 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $698,000 after purchasing an additional 39 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Girard Partners LTD. lifted its holdings in Walgreens Boots Alliance by 1.9% during the second quarter. Girard Partners LTD. now owns 3,053 shares of the pharmacy operator’s stock valued at $239,000 after purchasing an additional 56 shares in the last quarter. 61.15% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Walgreens Boots Alliance

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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