Financial services giant Visa, Inc. has recently made headlines as its shares continue to gain attention from investors and analysts alike. According to Sigma Planning Corp’s most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company lessened its stake in Visa by 9.4% during the fourth quarter of last year, selling 5,177 shares in total. The fund now owns 49,829 shares in the credit-card processor’s stock, which was worth around $10,353,000 as of the end of that reporting period.
Meanwhile, Visa also released its latest quarterly earnings data on January 26th this year. The company reported an earnings per share (EPS) of $2.18 for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate by $0.17. Revenues stood at $7.90 billion for that period; a figure that surpassed analyst estimates of $7.70 billion.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, analysts across Wall Street have been busy weighing in on Visa in recent weeks and months – particularly when it comes to their ratings and target prices for V shares.
For instance, StockNews.com recently upgraded their rating for Visa from ‘hold’ to ‘buy’, while Wolfe Research raised their target price on V shares from $240 to $255 earlier this year.
Elsewhere in Wall Street circles, Mizuho recently lifted their own target price on Visa from $220 to $240 and gave the company a ‘neutral’ rating overall; while investment bank UBS Group downgraded their price target from a previous rate of $290 down to a new figure of $287 – but still issued the company with an overall ‘buy’ rating.
It is perhaps worth noting however that one research analyst currently rates V shares as a ‘sell’, while two have assigned it a ‘hold’ rating overall.
Overall though, given these high ratings and consensus views across Wall Street circles regarding its stock value potential, it’s perhaps little surprise that V shares continue to hold investor attention – even as other firms like Sigma Planning Corp sell off some of their own holdings in the company. As a result, Visa will likely continue to be closely watched and monitored by investors and analysts alike throughout the rest of 2021 and beyond.
Visa Inc.: Mixed Opinions and Controversial Practices
Visa Inc. has been in the news recently for a number of reasons, both positive and negative. The company’s stock price opened at $229.00 on Tuesday and has a 52 week low of $174.60 and a 52 week high of $234.30. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 81.87% of the company’s stock, with BCK Partners Inc., AMI Investment Management Inc., Ergoteles LLC, Markel Corp, and XTX Topco Ltd being some notable recent additions to this ownership list.
Despite this heavy investment by institutions, equities analysts have mixed opinions about Visa’s stock performance. One analyst assigned it a sell rating, while two assigned it a hold rating and twenty assigned it a buy rating, leading to an overall consensus rating of “Moderate Buy”. Target prices for the stock range from $220 to $287 per share.
In March 2017, Visa announced an increase in its quarterly dividend payout from $0.40 to $0.45 per share, which represents an annualized dividend of $1.80 per share and a yield of 0.79%. This is seen as a positive change for shareholders who value dividends.
However, insider trading by Rajat Taneja has also sparked controversy around the company’s practices. Taneja sold over 120,000 shares in two different transactions at average prices above $229 per share, resulting in total sales worth over $28 million within just one month. Chairman Alfred F Kelly Jr was also involved in insider trading by selling shares at an average price above $223 per share for over $12 million.
Overall, while Visa’s stock performance is subject to various opinions from equity analysts, recent developments such as increased dividends combined with controversial insider trading actions raise questions about transparency issues and corporate governance practices at the credit card giant that should be investigated further by involved parties such as regulators, investors and analysts alike.