Equifax (EFX) Lowered to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Equifax (NYSE:EFX) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Last year's cyber-attack at Equifax, under which criminals stole highly sensitive personal data of approximately 143 million of its consumers, has heavily tarnished the brand image, reputation and credibility of the company. The company is facing huge customer criticism, while cybersecurity companies are questioning its preparedness and response to this massive data breach. Moreover, with lawmakers and investigating agencies probing the mishap, troubles for Equifax are unlikely to end any time soon. Notably, shares have underperformed the industry in a year’s time frame. Nonetheless, we believe that management’s efforts, such as strategic initiatives for product innovation and expansion of data assets through acquisitions should act as tailwinds”

Several other equities analysts also recently issued reports on the stock. ValuEngine raised shares of Equifax from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Friday, June 8th. Morgan Stanley lifted their price target on shares of Equifax from $119.00 to $120.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a report on Friday, April 27th. Bank of America assumed coverage on shares of Equifax in a report on Tuesday, April 10th. They set an underperform rating and a $115.00 price target for the company. SunTrust Banks lifted their price target on shares of Equifax to $140.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Monday, March 5th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co reissued a buy rating and set a $132.00 price target (up from $127.00) on shares of Equifax in a report on Monday, March 5th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $124.64.

Equifax opened at $122.99 on Wednesday, MarketBeat reports. Equifax has a 52 week low of $89.59 and a 52 week high of $147.02. The stock has a market cap of $14.97 billion, a PE ratio of 20.60, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.62 and a beta of 0.94. The company has a quick ratio of 0.60, a current ratio of 0.60 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52.

Equifax (NYSE:EFX) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, April 25th. The credit services provider reported $1.43 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.37 by $0.06. Equifax had a net margin of 15.46% and a return on equity of 22.55%. The firm had revenue of $865.70 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $854.89 million. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.44 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 4.0% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts expect that Equifax will post 5.94 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, May 25th were paid a $0.39 dividend. This represents a $1.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.27%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, May 24th. Equifax’s dividend payout ratio is presently 26.13%.

In related news, CEO Mark W. Begor bought 8,700 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, May 25th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $115.01 per share, with a total value of $1,000,587.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the chief executive officer now owns 46,491 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,346,929.91. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Insiders own 1.45% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in EFX. Brown Advisory Inc. grew its position in shares of Equifax by 2.4% during the 4th quarter. Brown Advisory Inc. now owns 18,448 shares of the credit services provider’s stock worth $2,176,000 after buying an additional 440 shares during the period. Atria Investments LLC grew its position in shares of Equifax by 10.7% during the 1st quarter. Atria Investments LLC now owns 5,780 shares of the credit services provider’s stock worth $681,000 after buying an additional 560 shares during the period. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec grew its position in shares of Equifax by 3.8% during the 4th quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec now owns 16,371 shares of the credit services provider’s stock worth $1,930,000 after buying an additional 600 shares during the period. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB grew its position in shares of Equifax by 2.8% during the 1st quarter. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB now owns 23,393 shares of the credit services provider’s stock worth $2,756,000 after buying an additional 632 shares during the period. Finally, Flinton Capital Management LLC grew its position in shares of Equifax by 22.1% during the 4th quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC now owns 3,536 shares of the credit services provider’s stock worth $417,000 after buying an additional 640 shares during the period. 90.18% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Equifax

Equifax Inc provides information solutions and human resources business process outsourcing services for businesses, governments, and consumers. The company operates through four segments: U.S. Information Solutions (USIS), International, Workforce Solutions, and Global Consumer Solutions. The USIS segment offers consumer and commercial information services, such as credit information and credit scoring, credit modeling and portfolio analytics, locate, fraud detection and prevention, identity verification, and other consulting; mortgage loan origination information; financial marketing; and identity management services.

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