Zacks: Brokerage houses ahead of Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) announcement of EPS of $0.44

Wall Street brokers expect The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU – Get Rating) to report earnings of $0.44 per share for the current quarter, reports Zacks Investment Research. Six analysts provided estimates for Western Union earnings, with estimates ranging from $0.41 to $0.48. Western Union also posted earnings of $0.44 per share in the same quarter last year. The company is expected to release its next quarterly earnings report after the market closes on Monday, January 1.

On average, analysts expect Western Union to report annual earnings of $1.94 per share for the current fiscal year, with EPS estimates ranging from $1.87 to $2.02. For the next fiscal year, analysts expect the company to post earnings of $2.11 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $2.04 to $2.18. Zacks Investment Research’s EPS averages are an average average based on a survey of research analysts who cover Western Union.

Western Union (NYSE:WU – Get Rating) last released quarterly earnings data on Thursday, February 10. The credit services provider reported EPS of $0.64 for the quarter, beating Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $0.53 by $0.11. The company posted revenue of $1.28 billion in the quarter, versus a consensus estimate of $1.29 billion. Western Union had a net margin of 15.89% and a return on equity of 291.68%. Western Union revenue for the quarter increased 1.0% year on year. During the same period last year, the company achieved EPS of $0.45.

Several analysts have recently weighed in on WU shares. UBS Group began covering Western Union shares in a research report on Thursday, March 31. They set a “neutral” rating and a price target of $19.00 on the stock. Bank of America downgraded Western Union shares from a “buy” rating to an “underperform” rating and lowered its price target for the company from $25.00 to $20.00 in a report of research from Thursday, January 6. Citigroup lowered its price target on Western Union shares from $25.00 to $24.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a Wednesday, Jan. 26 research report. Morgan Stanley reiterated a “sell” note and posted a target price of $15.50 on Western Union shares in a research report on Friday, March 11. Finally, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Western Union shares from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and set a target price of $20.00 on the stock in a Thursday, April 14 research report. Three analysts gave the stock a sell rating, nine gave the company a hold rating and two gave the company a buy rating. Based on data from MarketBeat, the stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $20.54.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently changed their positions in WU. Denali Advisors LLC purchased a new equity stake in Western Union during Q4, valued at approximately $25,000. CWM LLC purchased a new stake in Western Union during the fourth quarter worth approximately $30,000. Spire Wealth Management bought a new stake in Western Union during the fourth quarter worth about $42,000. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. increased its stake in Western Union by 3,208.6% during the fourth quarter. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. now owns 2,680 shares of the credit services provider worth $47,000 after acquiring 2,599 additional shares last quarter. Finally, First Horizon Advisors Inc. increased its stake in Western Union by 61.1% during the fourth quarter. First Horizon Advisors Inc. now owns 2,680 shares of the credit services provider worth $47,000 after acquiring 1,016 additional shares in the last quarter. 98.88% of the shares are currently held by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

NYSE WU traded down $0.16 on Wednesday, hitting $19.40. The stock had a trading volume of 2,834,642 shares, against an average volume of 5,543,899. The company has a 50-day moving average of $18.65 and a 200-day moving average of 18.49 $. The company has a debt ratio of 8.46, a quick ratio of 0.97 and a current ratio of 0.97. The company has a market capitalization of $7.54 billion, a price-earnings ratio of 9.85 and a beta of 0.90. Western Union has a 52-week minimum of $15.69 and a 52-week maximum of $26.61.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, March 31. Shareholders of record on Thursday, March 17 received a dividend of $0.235. This represents a dividend of $0.94 on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.85%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, March 16. Western Union’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 47.72%.

Western Union announced that its board of directors authorized a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, Feb. 10 that allows the company to repurchase $1.00 billion of outstanding stock. This repurchase authorization authorizes the credit service provider to repurchase up to 13.5% of its shares through purchases on the open market. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that a company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

Western Union Company Profile (Get an assessment)

The Western Union Company provides money transfer and payment services worldwide. The Company operates in two segments, Consumer-to-Consumer and Business Solutions. The Consumer-to-Consumer segment facilitates money transfers between two consumers, primarily through a network of third-party agents and sub-agents; and offers international cross-border transfers and intra-country transfers, as well as money transfer transactions via websites and mobile devices.

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