UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) Cut to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Friday, Zacks.com reports.

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. “

Several other equities analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Northcoast Research restated a neutral rating on shares of UniFirst in a research report on Thursday, October 22nd. Robert W. Baird upped their price target on shares of UniFirst from $187.00 to $206.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research report on Thursday, July 2nd. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $191.67.

UNF stock opened at $166.94 on Friday. The company has a 50 day simple moving average of $188.34 and a 200 day simple moving average of $179.97. The stock has a market cap of $3.15 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.24 and a beta of 0.89. UniFirst has a 1 year low of $121.89 and a 1 year high of $217.90.

UniFirst (NYSE:UNF) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 21st. The textile maker reported $1.66 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.62 by $0.04. UniFirst had a net margin of 7.70% and a return on equity of 8.49%. On average, analysts predict that UniFirst will post 7.09 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other news, VP Michael A. Croatti sold 1,286 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, September 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $187.16, for a total value of $240,687.76. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 7,953 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,488,483.48. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, major shareholder Cynthia Croatti sold 1,209 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $187.19, for a total transaction of $226,312.71. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 2,612 shares of company stock worth $490,178. Insiders own 1.10% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. First Mercantile Trust Co. bought a new position in UniFirst during the second quarter worth $34,000. Private Advisor Group LLC bought a new position in UniFirst during the second quarter worth $55,000. Point72 Hong Kong Ltd boosted its stake in UniFirst by 806.8% during the second quarter. Point72 Hong Kong Ltd now owns 399 shares of the textile maker’s stock worth $71,000 after acquiring an additional 355 shares in the last quarter. Marshall Wace North America L.P. boosted its stake 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 acquiring an additional 70 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Mutual of America Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in UniFirst by 7.7% during the second quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC now owns 739 shares of the textile maker’s stock worth $132,000 after acquiring an additional 53 shares in the last quarter. 78.77% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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.

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