Waste Management (WM) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Waste Management (NYSE:WM) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Monday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $99.00 target price on the business services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Waste Management is focusing on the core business activities to instill price and cost discipline in order to achieve better margins. The company's successful cost-reduction initiatives have helped it in accomplishing remarkable gross margin expansion and EBITDA growth over the quarters. Waste Management expects yield momentum to continue in its solid waste lines of business in the forthcoming quarters as well. With strong yield, volume, and cost performance in the third quarter, the company has lifted its guidance for 2017. The company plans to return significant cash to shareholders through healthy dividends and share repurchases in the future to reward them with risk-adjusted returns. Waste Management has also outperformed the industry in the last three months. However, stringent government regulations are likely to erode profitability as compliance with such regulations increases operating costs.”

Several other brokerages also recently commented on WM. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a buy rating and set a $85.00 price target on shares of Waste Management in a report on Friday, October 13th. KeyCorp reiterated a buy rating and set a $88.00 price target on shares of Waste Management in a report on Friday, October 27th. Macquarie upgraded Waste Management from a neutral rating to an outperform rating in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. Bank of America lowered their price target on Waste Management from $85.00 to $83.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus restated a buy rating and issued a $100.00 price objective on shares of Waste Management in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Waste Management currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $86.78.

Shares of Waste Management (NYSE:WM) traded up $0.91 on Monday, reaching $88.18. 1,600,454 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 1,714,914. The company has a market capitalization of $38,160.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.35, a PEG ratio of 2.64 and a beta of 0.75. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.60, a quick ratio of 0.68 and a current ratio of 0.71. Waste Management has a 52-week low of $69.00 and a 52-week high of $88.40.

Waste Management (NYSE:WM) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The business services provider reported $0.90 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.88 by $0.02. Waste Management had a net margin of 9.66% and a return on equity of 25.61%. The firm had revenue of $3.72 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.71 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $0.84 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.7% on a year-over-year basis. research analysts expect that Waste Management will post 3.2 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 1st were paid a $0.425 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 30th. This represents a $1.70 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.93%. Waste Management’s payout ratio is 54.66%.

Waste Management announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase program on Thursday, December 14th that authorizes the company to repurchase $1.25 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the business services provider to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are usually an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other Waste Management news, SVP Barry H. Caldwell sold 1,650 shares of Waste Management stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $81.10, for a total transaction of $133,815.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Company insiders own 0.19% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 7,400.8% during the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 4,317,825 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $316,712,000 after acquiring an additional 4,260,260 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 5.0% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 34,374,879 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $2,521,397,000 after acquiring an additional 1,621,347 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 4.9% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 31,637,903 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $2,320,637,000 after acquiring an additional 1,475,583 shares during the period. APG Asset Management N.V. lifted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 49.2% during the third quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 2,417,131 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $189,189,000 after acquiring an additional 797,192 shares during the period. Finally, Pictet Asset Management Ltd. lifted its holdings in shares of Waste Management by 52.2% during the third quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 1,942,925 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $152,073,000 after acquiring an additional 666,000 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.89% of the company’s stock.

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About Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc (WM) is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is a provider of waste management environmental services. The Company’s segments include Solid Waste and Other. The Company’s Solid Waste segment includes its solid waste business. The Other segment includes its Strategic Business Solutions (WMSBS) organization; its landfill gas-to-energy operations and third-party subcontract and administration services managed by its Energy and Environmental Services and WM Renewable Energy organizations; its recycling brokerage services, and its service offerings and solutions, such as portable self-storage and long distance moving services, fluorescent lamp recycling and interests it holds in oil and gas producing properties.

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