Zacks Investment Research Lowers Ball (BLL) to Hold

Ball (NYSE:BLL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Ball Corporation remains optimistic about the U.S. tax reform which will likely benefit its end markets. It expects free cash flow to be around $900 million and capital spending to be at least $600 million in 2018. The company will gain from expected synergy benefits from the Rexam acquisition. Focus on expanding geographic footprint and long-term strategy will also stoke growth. The stock has also outperformed the industry over the past year. However, Ball Corporation's performance will be affected by declines in domestic beer consumption, supply disruptions in North American beverage and competition in Brazil. The company is also expected to witness difficult manufacturing performance in the food and aerosol business in 2018. Also, demand volatility in the EMEA region remains another headwind.”

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A number of other equities analysts have also commented on the stock. JPMorgan Chase reaffirmed an “overweight” rating and set a $48.00 target price (up from $47.00) on shares of Ball in a research report on Thursday, February 8th. Vertical Research raised shares of Ball from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $44.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Friday, December 15th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Citigroup raised shares of Ball from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $45.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, January 17th. TheStreet lowered shares of Ball from a “b-” rating to a “c+” rating in a report on Thursday, December 14th. Finally, KeyCorp raised shares of Ball from an “underweight” rating to a “sector weight” rating in a report on Monday, February 12th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Ball has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $45.38.

Shares of NYSE:BLL traded up $0.10 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $40.61. The company had a trading volume of 557,274 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,128,965. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.61, a current ratio of 0.92 and a quick ratio of 0.54. The firm has a market capitalization of $14,105.29, a price-to-earnings ratio of 19.90, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.18 and a beta of 0.85. Ball has a 12-month low of $35.60 and a 12-month high of $43.24.

Ball (NYSE:BLL) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 7th. The industrial products company reported $0.60 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.52 by $0.08. The firm had revenue of $2.75 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.64 billion. Ball had a return on equity of 19.24% and a net margin of 3.63%. Ball’s revenue was up 8.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.44 EPS. equities research analysts expect that Ball will post 2.3 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, VP Scott C. Morrison sold 2,591 shares of Ball stock in a transaction on Friday, January 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $38.62, for a total transaction of $100,064.42. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 390,052 shares in the company, valued at $15,063,808.24. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, COO James N. Peterson sold 4,384 shares of Ball stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $38.90, for a total transaction of $170,537.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 41,774 shares of company stock valued at $1,642,983. 2.70% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of BLL. New Mexico Educational Retirement Board boosted its holdings in Ball by 4.0% in the 4th quarter. New Mexico Educational Retirement Board now owns 33,828 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $1,280,000 after purchasing an additional 1,300 shares during the last quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. boosted its holdings in Ball by 63.0% in the 4th quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. now owns 3,881 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $147,000 after purchasing an additional 1,500 shares during the last quarter. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC boosted its holdings in Ball by 9.8% in the 4th quarter. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC now owns 16,968 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $642,000 after purchasing an additional 1,512 shares during the last quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC boosted its holdings in Ball by 5.1% in the 3rd quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 31,447 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $1,299,000 after purchasing an additional 1,524 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. boosted its holdings in Ball by 6.2% in the 4th quarter. Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. now owns 29,084 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $1,101,000 after purchasing an additional 1,710 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 88.68% of the company’s stock.

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Ball Company Profile

Ball Corporation supplies metal packaging products to the beverage, food, personal care, and household products industries. It operates in five segments: Beverage Packaging, North and Central America; Beverage Packaging, South America; Beverage Packaging, Europe; Food and Aerosol Packaging; and Aerospace.

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