Willis Towers Watson PLC (WLTW) Raised to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report published on Monday, May 8th.

According to Zacks, “Willis Towers’ EPS beat expectations on higher revenues and lower expenses and shares outperformed the Zacks categorized Life Insurance industry. Willis Towers is set to deliver long-term shareholder value via incremental revenue growth, cost synergies, and tax efficiencies, besides unlocking balance sheet capacity. Going ahead, focus on realizing operational efficiencies, investing in new growth avenues and strengthening its client services bode well. The legacy companies, acquired from buyouts over the last few years, will combine forces and leverage strengths to penetrate deeper into markets, and expand international presence. Willis Towers expects adjusted EPS between $8.40 and $8.55, constant currency revenue growth in the range of 2–3% and adjusted EBITDA margin in the range of 23–24% in 2017. However, escalating expenses, rising debt level, and adverse forex remain concerns.”

Several other equities analysts also recently weighed in on WLTW. MKM Partners reiterated a buy rating and issued a $140.00 price target on shares of Willis Towers Watson PLC in a report on Wednesday, January 25th. Bank of America Corp lowered Willis Towers Watson PLC from a buy rating to a neutral rating and set a $135.00 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Friday, January 27th. Jefferies Group LLC restated a buy rating and issued a $141.00 price objective on shares of Willis Towers Watson PLC in a research report on Thursday, February 9th. Citigroup Inc set a $156.00 price objective on Willis Towers Watson PLC and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, February 14th. Finally, William Blair restated an outperform rating on shares of Willis Towers Watson PLC in a research report on Thursday, March 9th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Willis Towers Watson PLC presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $142.30.

Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW) traded up 0.15% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $140.06. 1,366,001 shares of the stock traded hands. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $134.18 and its 200-day moving average price is $127.56. Willis Towers Watson PLC has a 1-year low of $112.76 and a 1-year high of $146.30. The stock has a market cap of $18.93 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 36.84 and a beta of 0.80.

Willis Towers Watson PLC (NASDAQ:WLTW) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, May 4th. The financial services provider reported $3.71 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $3.33 by $0.38. Willis Towers Watson PLC had a net margin of 3.96% and a return on equity of 10.12%. The company had revenue of $2.32 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.29 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $3.41 EPS. Willis Towers Watson PLC’s quarterly revenue was up 3.8% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts predict that Willis Towers Watson PLC will post $8.59 earnings per share for the current year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 17th. Investors of record on Friday, June 30th will be issued a $0.53 dividend. This represents a $2.12 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.51%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, June 28th. Willis Towers Watson PLC’s dividend payout ratio is currently 84.21%.

In other news, insider Jeffrey W. Ubben sold 1,000,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $140.53, for a total transaction of $140,530,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Director Paul D. Thomas sold 2,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, May 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $141.62, for a total value of $311,564.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders have sold 1,012,200 shares of company stock worth $142,132,464. 6.40% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WLTW. Financial Architects Inc boosted its stake in Willis Towers Watson PLC by 170.6% in the first quarter. Financial Architects Inc now owns 1,253 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $164,000 after buying an additional 790 shares in the last quarter. JNBA Financial Advisors boosted its stake in Willis Towers Watson PLC by 31.4% in the fourth quarter. JNBA Financial Advisors now owns 1,575 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $193,000 after buying an additional 376 shares in the last quarter. Private Advisor Group LLC acquired a new stake in Willis Towers Watson PLC during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $200,000. Vivaldi Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in Willis Towers Watson PLC during the first quarter valued at approximately $228,000. Finally, Farr Miller & Washington LLC DC boosted its stake in Willis Towers Watson PLC by 1.0% in the fourth quarter. Farr Miller & Washington LLC DC now owns 1,789 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $219,000 after buying an additional 18 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 88.23% of the company’s stock.

About Willis Towers Watson PLC

Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company (Willis Towers Watson) is a holding company. The Company operates as a global advisory, broking and solutions company. It is engaged in offering risk management, insurance broking, consulting, technology and solutions, and private exchanges. The Company operates through eight segments: Willis International; Willis North America; Willis Capital, Wholesale & Reinsurance (CWR); Willis GB; Towers Watson Benefits; Towers Watson Exchange Solutions; Towers Watson Risk and Financial Services; and Towers Watson Talent and Rewards.

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