UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) Upgraded to Strong-Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a report released on Saturday, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has $213.00 price target on the textile maker’s stock.

According to Zacks, “UniFirst Corporation has become an industry leader and remains one of the fastest growing companies in the Uniform and Textile Services business. Its business is the rental Lease and Sale of work clothing, uniforms, protective apparel, careerwear, and facility service products to businesses in virtually all industrial categories. The major portion of the Company’s business is Uniform Rental Service Programs, wherein it provides customers with all necessary products plus weekly cleaning, maintenance, and any needed replacements of work clothing. The Company became the first private industrial launderer to be granted a government license to process nuclear-contaminated garments. The Company has developed a separate division, UniTech Services Group, which now includes specialized plants throughout the United States and in Europe. UniFirst is a national leader in cleaning and decontaminating the garments worn by workers who maintain and refuel nuclear power and nuclear processing equipment. “

UNF has been the subject of several other research reports. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased their target price on shares of UniFirst from $155.00 to $183.00 and gave the stock a neutral rating in a research note on Thursday. ValuEngine upgraded shares of UniFirst from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday.

NYSE UNF opened at $188.57 on Friday. UniFirst has a 1 year low of $132.38 and a 1 year high of $191.95. The firm has a market capitalization of $3.59 billion, a P/E ratio of 23.37 and a beta of 0.63. The company has a fifty day moving average of $163.81.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, June 26th. The textile maker reported $2.46 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.70 by $0.76. UniFirst had a net margin of 9.21% and a return on equity of 9.67%. The company had revenue of $453.72 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $441.70 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $1.85 earnings per share. UniFirst’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.2% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts forecast that UniFirst will post 7.66 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 27th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 6th will be paid a dividend of $0.1125 per share. This represents a $0.45 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.24%. UniFirst’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 6.04%.

In other news, VP Michael A. Croatti sold 532 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, April 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $156.35, for a total transaction of $83,178.20. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 5,651 shares in the company, valued at $883,533.85. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, Director Michael Iandoli sold 544 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, April 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $155.04, for a total transaction of $84,341.76. Following the sale, the director now owns 5,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $775,200. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 8,587 shares of company stock valued at $1,336,378 in the last quarter. Insiders own 1.00% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. NumerixS Investment Technologies Inc purchased a new position in UniFirst during the fourth quarter worth about $28,000. Marshall Wace North America L.P. raised its holdings in UniFirst by 17.4% during the first quarter. Marshall Wace North America L.P. now owns 473 shares of the textile maker’s stock worth $73,000 after purchasing an additional 70 shares in the last quarter. Cambridge Trust Co. purchased a new position in UniFirst during the first quarter worth about $203,000. Magnus Financial Group LLC purchased a new position in UniFirst during the fourth quarter worth about $214,000. Finally, State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System purchased a new position in UniFirst during the first quarter worth about $241,000. 77.07% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About UniFirst

UniFirst Corporation provides workplace uniforms and protective work wear clothing in the United States, Europe, and Canada. The company operates through U.S. Rental and Cleaning, Canadian Rental and Cleaning, Manufacturing, Specialty Garments Rental and Cleaning, and First Aid segments. It designs, manufactures, personalizes, rents, cleans, delivers, and sells a range of uniforms and protective clothing, including shirts, pants, jackets, coveralls, lab coats, smocks, and aprons; and specialized protective wear, such as flame resistant and high visibility garments.

Read More: Understanding debt-to-equity ratio in fundamental analysis

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on UniFirst (UNF)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Receive News & Ratings for UniFirst Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for UniFirst and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.