Waddell & Reed Financial (WDR) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Sell

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Waddell & Reed Financial (NYSE:WDR) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published on Sunday.

According to Zacks, “Waddell & Reed's shares have outperformed the industry over the past six months. Further, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing four quarters. Earnings estimates have been going down ahead of the company's fourth quarter 2018 results. While the company’s focus on strengthening the Broker-Dealer channel is expected to lead to an increase in asset inflows as well as top-line growth, declining trend in assets under management (AUM) is expected to continue, which may hamper profitability. Further, higher operating expenses remains a major concern.”

Several other analysts also recently issued reports on WDR. Royal Bank of Canada set a $17.00 price target on Waddell & Reed Financial and gave the stock a sell rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Credit Suisse Group decreased their price target on Waddell & Reed Financial from $20.00 to $18.00 and set an underperform rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Finally, Citigroup set a $20.00 price target on Waddell & Reed Financial and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 31st. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and three have issued a hold rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Sell and a consensus target price of $20.38.

WDR opened at $17.96 on Friday. The stock has a market cap of $1.41 billion, a PE ratio of 9.35, a P/E/G ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.54. Waddell & Reed Financial has a 52-week low of $16.45 and a 52-week high of $23.82. The company has a quick ratio of 1.80, a current ratio of 4.04 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.11.

Waddell & Reed Financial (NYSE:WDR) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 30th. The asset manager reported $0.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.56 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $295.10 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $293.63 million. Waddell & Reed Financial had a return on equity of 20.10% and a net margin of 14.11%. The firm’s revenue was up 2.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.44 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Waddell & Reed Financial will post 2.21 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, February 1st. Investors of record on Friday, January 11th will be paid a dividend of $0.25 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, January 10th. This represents a $1.00 annualized dividend and a yield of 5.57%. Waddell & Reed Financial’s payout ratio is 52.08%.

In related news, Director Jerry W. Walton sold 9,427 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $19.05, for a total transaction of $179,584.35. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. 3.40% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Northern Trust Corp lifted its position in shares of Waddell & Reed Financial by 6.7% in the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,109,360 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $19,935,000 after acquiring an additional 69,363 shares during the period. Bank of Montreal Can lifted its position in shares of Waddell & Reed Financial by 7,083.5% in the 3rd quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 171,398 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $3,630,000 after acquiring an additional 169,012 shares during the period. Laurion Capital Management LP bought a new stake in shares of Waddell & Reed Financial in the 2nd quarter worth approximately $191,000. Russell Investments Group Ltd. lifted its position in shares of Waddell & Reed Financial by 63.9% in the 3rd quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 143,219 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $3,035,000 after acquiring an additional 55,813 shares during the period. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company MN lifted its position in shares of Waddell & Reed Financial by 255.3% in the 3rd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 1,135,212 shares of the asset manager’s stock worth $24,043,000 after acquiring an additional 815,669 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 98.19% of the company’s stock.

About Waddell & Reed Financial

Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides investment management and advisory, investment product underwriting and distribution, and shareholder services administration to mutual funds, and institutional and separately managed accounts in the United States. The company acts as an investment adviser for institutional and other private investors, and provides sub advisory services to other investment companies; and underwrites and distributes registered open-end mutual fund portfolios.

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