W. W. Grainger (GWW) Lowered to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of W. W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Wednesday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $327.00 price target on the industrial products company’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Grainger expects its earnings per share in fiscal 2018 will benefit from lower corporate tax rate under the U.S. tax legislation and incremental share buybacks. The company anticipates sales will grow in the range of 3%-7% for the fiscal. Further, Grainger is well poised to gain from pricing initiatives, digital marketing strategies, focus on improving cost structure and efforts to bring its Canadian business back to profitability. It also remains focused on improving services to customers and consistent direct-to-customer shipping. Moreover, the stock has outperformed the industry over the past year. However, Grainger's margin performance will be hurt by significant inflationary expenses. Further, fluctuation in oil prices will hamper the Canada segment’s results.”

GWW has been the topic of a number of other reports. Royal Bank of Canada restated a sell rating and issued a $192.00 price target on shares of W. W. Grainger in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Goldman Sachs reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of W. W. Grainger in a report on Monday, March 19th. Stifel Nicolaus reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $278.00 price objective on shares of W. W. Grainger in a report on Friday, January 26th. Credit Suisse Group raised their price objective on W. W. Grainger from $190.00 to $240.00 and gave the stock an underperform rating in a report on Thursday, January 25th. Finally, Wells Fargo raised their price objective on W. W. Grainger from $220.00 to $260.00 and gave the stock a market perform rating in a report on Thursday, January 25th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have given a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $245.54.

W. W. Grainger stock opened at $279.17 on Wednesday. W. W. Grainger has a 1-year low of $155.00 and a 1-year high of $298.14. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.23, a quick ratio of 1.18 and a current ratio of 2.13. The firm has a market capitalization of $16,382.78, a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.36, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.19 and a beta of 0.81.

W. W. Grainger (NYSE:GWW) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, January 24th. The industrial products company reported $2.94 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.18 by $0.76. W. W. Grainger had a return on equity of 35.76% and a net margin of 5.62%. The company had revenue of $2.63 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.57 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $2.45 earnings per share. W. W. Grainger’s quarterly revenue was up 6.5% on a year-over-year basis. analysts anticipate that W. W. Grainger will post 13.76 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, VP John L. Howard sold 19,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, April 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $295.00, for a total transaction of $5,752,500.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 57,906 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $17,082,270. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, Director Lucas E. Watson purchased 195 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 5th. The shares were bought at an average cost of $256.51 per share, for a total transaction of $50,019.45. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Company insiders own 10.10% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in GWW. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its holdings in shares of W. W. Grainger by 4.0% during the third quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 262,424 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $47,171,000 after buying an additional 9,979 shares during the last quarter. Stifel Financial Corp boosted its holdings in W. W. Grainger by 12.6% in the 3rd quarter. Stifel Financial Corp now owns 33,421 shares of the industrial products company’s stock valued at $6,031,000 after purchasing an additional 3,729 shares in the last quarter. Vident Investment Advisory LLC purchased a new stake in W. W. Grainger in the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $772,000. Caxton Associates LP purchased a new stake in W. W. Grainger in the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $503,000. Finally, Cubist Systematic Strategies LLC purchased a new stake in W. W. Grainger in the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $701,000. 83.69% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About W. W. Grainger

W.W. Grainger, Inc distributes maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) supplies; and other related products and services that are used by businesses and institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The company offers material handling equipment, safety and security supplies, lighting and electrical products, power and hand tools, pumps and plumbing supplies, cleaning and maintenance supplies, metalworking tools, and various other products.

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