Willis Towers Watson (WLTW) Lifted to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Wednesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $175.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Willis Towers has outperformed the industry quarter to date. The company is set to deliver value via incremental revenue growth, cost synergies and tax efficiencies besides unlocking the balance sheet capacity. Focus on realizing operational efficiencies, investing in new growth avenues and strengthening its client services bode well for the company. Its inorganic growth story remains impressive and helps leverage strength to penetrate deeper into the markets and expand its international presence. Willis Towers expects adjusted earnings per share between $10.12 and $10.32 (raised from the $9.88-$10.12 band), organic revenue growth of about 4% and EBITDA to be around 25% in 2018. However, escalating expenses, rising debt-level and an adverse forex remain its key concerns.”

A number of other analysts also recently issued reports on the company. Morgan Stanley raised their target price on Willis Towers Watson from $171.00 to $180.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, November 14th. BidaskClub upgraded Willis Towers Watson from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, November 7th. Raymond James increased their price target on Willis Towers Watson from $175.00 to $180.00 and gave the stock a strong-buy rating in a report on Tuesday, November 6th. Wells Fargo & Co increased their price target on Willis Towers Watson from $155.00 to $160.00 and gave the stock a market perform rating in a report on Monday, November 5th. Finally, Citigroup set a $165.00 price target on Willis Towers Watson and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, October 12th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Willis Towers Watson has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $173.64.

Shares of WLTW opened at $155.98 on Wednesday. Willis Towers Watson has a 52-week low of $134.50 and a 52-week high of $164.99. The firm has a market capitalization of $20.37 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.33, a P/E/G ratio of 1.34 and a beta of 0.74. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44, a current ratio of 1.86 and a quick ratio of 1.86.

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) last issued its earnings results on Friday, November 2nd. The financial services provider reported $1.32 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.11 by $0.21. Willis Towers Watson had a return on equity of 10.15% and a net margin of 6.84%. The business had revenue of $1.89 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.88 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.12 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.1% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts forecast that Willis Towers Watson will post 9.82 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider Julie Jarecke Gebauer sold 10,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $160.15, for a total transaction of $1,601,500.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Todd J. Jones sold 2,450 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $155.56, for a total value of $381,122.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 17,864 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,778,923.84. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 14,280 shares of company stock valued at $2,251,211. Company insiders own 0.50% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Landaas & Co. WI ADV purchased a new position in Willis Towers Watson during the 2nd quarter valued at about $167,000. Advisor Partners LLC purchased a new position in Willis Towers Watson during the 2nd quarter valued at about $209,000. Dupont Capital Management Corp boosted its holdings in Willis Towers Watson by 74.4% during the 2nd quarter. Dupont Capital Management Corp now owns 1,444 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $219,000 after acquiring an additional 616 shares during the period. Edgestream Partners L.P. purchased a new position in Willis Towers Watson during the 3rd quarter valued at about $213,000. Finally, HRT Financial LLC purchased a new position in Willis Towers Watson during the 2nd quarter valued at about $230,000. Institutional investors own 91.78% of the company’s stock.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company operates as an advisory, broking, and solutions company worldwide. Its Human Capital and Benefits segment provides actuarial support, plan design, and administrative services for traditional pension and retirement savings plans; plan management consulting, broking, and administration services for health and group benefit programs; and benefits outsourcing services.

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