Waste Connections, Inc. (NYSE:WCN) Lowered to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Waste Connections, Inc. (NYSE:WCN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Tuesday, August 1st.

According to Zacks, “Waste Connections reported better-than-expected results in second-quarter 2017, with adjusted earnings beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $0.02. With prime location of disposal sites within competitive markets and vertically integrated services, Waste Connections has optimal asset positioning to generate higher profitability. The merger of Waste Connections with Progressive Waste Solutions has arguably created an industry leader with enhanced scale and a stronger financial profile. The company has also outperformed the industry year to date. However, volatility in crude oil prices, stringent health and safety laws adversely impact revenue generation and increase operating risks. Seasonality issues and low barriers to entry for the industry remain other challenges for the company. Competitors also resort to aggressive pricing to gain higher market share that erodes its profitability to some extent.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on WCN. TD Securities boosted their price target on Waste Connections from $67.00 to $73.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Thursday, July 27th. Barclays PLC set a $70.00 price target on Waste Connections and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, July 26th. Raymond James Financial, Inc. upped their price objective on Waste Connections from $74.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock a strong-buy rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Stifel Nicolaus upped their price objective on Waste Connections from $66.50 to $75.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, June 21st. Finally, Credit Suisse Group set a $75.00 price objective on Waste Connections and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $70.47.

Waste Connections (WCN) opened at 63.62 on Tuesday. The firm has a market cap of $16.76 billion, a PE ratio of 54.10 and a beta of 0.23. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $64.65 and a 200-day moving average of $81.45. Waste Connections has a 52-week low of $47.81 and a 52-week high of $67.14.

Waste Connections (NYSE:WCN) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 25th. The business services provider reported $0.55 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.53 by $0.02. The business had revenue of $1.18 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.15 billion. Waste Connections had a return on equity of 9.19% and a net margin of 7.11%. The company’s revenue was up 61.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.66 EPS. Equities analysts anticipate that Waste Connections will post $2.13 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, August 22nd. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, August 8th will be given a dividend of $0.12 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, August 4th. This represents a $0.48 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.75%. Waste Connections’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 32.11%.

Waste Connections announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback plan on Wednesday, August 2nd that permits the company to repurchase 13,180,000 shares. This repurchase authorization permits the business services provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, Director Susan Lee acquired 800 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 6th. The stock was acquired at an average price of $96.97 per share, for a total transaction of $77,576.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the director now directly owns 5,079 shares in the company, valued at approximately $492,510.63. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, insider James Little sold 3,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.81, for a total value of $194,430.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders sold 93,900 shares of company stock valued at $6,871,801. Insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WCN. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in shares of Waste Connections by 55.9% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 22,501,128 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $1,449,523,000 after buying an additional 8,068,453 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its stake in shares of Waste Connections by 59.4% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 11,757,442 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $757,414,000 after buying an additional 4,380,232 shares in the last quarter. Royal Bank of Canada increased its stake in shares of Waste Connections by 59.9% in the second quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 10,043,896 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $647,028,000 after buying an additional 3,762,212 shares in the last quarter. CIBC World Markets Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Waste Connections during the second quarter valued at approximately $207,877,000. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC increased its stake in shares of Waste Connections by 16,829.1% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 2,138,483 shares of the business services provider’s stock valued at $137,761,000 after buying an additional 2,125,851 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.21% of the company’s stock.

Waste Connections Company Profile

Waste Connections, Inc is a solid waste services company in North America. The Company provides waste collection, transfer, disposal and recycling services in markets in the United States and Canada. The Company operates through six segments: Southern segment, Western segment, Eastern segment, Canada segment, Central segment and E&P segment.

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