Analysts Hang Tough On Wal-Mart Despite Outlook

Benzinga

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) shares were sinking Friday on a disappointing third-quarter outlook, but analysts weren't ready to throw in the towel.

The company's soft second quarter shows "the benefits are still to come" from its plan to improve U.S. stores and stabilize international operations said Barclays' Meredith Adler, who maintained a Buy rating in a research note Friday.

Higher costs for health benefits and boosting online sales prompted the company to cut its 2015 outlook Thursday to $4.90-$5.15 from $5.10 to $5.45 per share.

"The headwind from healthcare should be mostly cyclical, but we expect the e-commerce costs to be around for a while," said Adler, who maintained an $84 target.

Likewise Nomura's Roberd Drbul maintained a Buy and $85 target.

Drbul "remains encouraged" by efforts to boost Internet sales spearheaded by Chief Executive C. Douglas McMillon. The 47-year-old McMillon was named to the post in November.

Also holding tight to a favorable rating, Raymond James' Budd Bugatch stood by his Outperform rating on Wal-Mart but lowered his target price to $80 per share, from $83, in light of the company's more subdued earnings forecast.

Wal-Mart, down more than six percent year to date, lost $0.62 per share Friday and traded at $73.77.

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