Morgan Stanley (MS) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Thursday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $46.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Morgan Stanley's have shares outperformed the Zacks categorized Investment Broker industry, over the last six months. The company's efforts to offload its non-core assets to lower balance sheet risk should lead to improvement in profitability. While the company's efforts to improve top line are impressive, the adverse impact of new regulatory requirements on its financials makes us apprehensive. Also, it remains on track to achieve its expense saving target of $1 billion by the end of this year.”

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reissued a buy rating on shares of Morgan Stanley in a research note on Thursday, March 30th. Deutsche Bank AG raised Morgan Stanley from a hold rating to a buy rating and boosted their price target for the company from $42.49 to $47.00 in a research note on Wednesday, March 29th. Instinet reissued a buy rating and issued a $49.00 price target on shares of Morgan Stanley in a research note on Monday, January 30th. Rafferty Capital Markets reissued a buy rating and issued a $50.00 price target on shares of Morgan Stanley in a research note on Saturday, April 22nd. Finally, Vetr upgraded Morgan Stanley from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $43.48 price objective for the company in a report on Monday, March 20th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating, nineteen have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. Morgan Stanley currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $42.07.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) traded up 1.07% during midday trading on Thursday, hitting $41.75. The stock had a trading volume of 8,603,450 shares. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $42.61 and a 200-day moving average price of $42.65. Morgan Stanley has a 52 week low of $23.11 and a 52 week high of $47.33. The stock has a market cap of $77.23 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.39 and a beta of 1.80. Morgan Stanley also was the recipient of some unusual options trading on Thursday. Stock investors purchased 2,771 call options on the stock. This is an increase of 403% compared to the average volume of 551 call options.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, April 19th. The financial services provider reported $1.00 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.90 by $0.10. Morgan Stanley had a return on equity of 8.48% and a net margin of 15.76%. The firm had revenue of $9.75 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $9.29 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.55 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 25.1% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts expect that Morgan Stanley will post $3.48 EPS for the current year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, May 15th. Stockholders of record on Monday, May 1st were given a dividend of $0.20 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, April 27th. This represents a $0.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.94%. Morgan Stanley’s dividend payout ratio is presently 27.40%.

In other news, Chairman James P. Gorman sold 212,365 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, May 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $42.93, for a total transaction of $9,116,829.45. Following the transaction, the chairman now owns 1,389,378 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $59,645,997.54. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. 0.35% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. BlackRock Inc. boosted its position in shares of Morgan Stanley by 2,798.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 101,168,197 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $4,334,046,000 after buying an additional 97,678,337 shares in the last quarter. FMR LLC boosted its position in shares of Morgan Stanley by 43.5% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 39,529,310 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,670,114,000 after buying an additional 11,986,512 shares in the last quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company purchased a new position in shares of Morgan Stanley during the third quarter worth approximately $311,936,000. Norges Bank purchased a new position in shares of Morgan Stanley during the fourth quarter worth approximately $346,891,000. Finally, State Street Corp boosted its position in shares of Morgan Stanley by 4.2% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 162,752,027 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $6,876,272,000 after buying an additional 6,517,260 shares in the last quarter. 85.87% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley is a financial holding company. The Company’s segments include Institutional Securities, Wealth Management and Investment Management. The Company’s Institutional Securities business segment provides investment banking, sales and trading, and other services to corporations, governments, financial institutions and high-to-ultra high net worth clients.

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