Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Medifast (NYSE:MED) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday, January 3rd.

According to Zacks, “Medifast is a leading manufacturer and distributor of clinically proven healthy living products and programs. It is the brand recommended by more than 20,000 Doctors. Medifast produces, distributes, and sells weight loss and other health-related products through websites, multi-level marketing, telemarketing, franchised weight loss clinics, and medical professionals. The company launched OPTAVIA, an exclusive brand and product line sold through its community of independent Coaches who offer support and guidance to their Clients. In partnership with OPTAVIA Coaches , franchise partners, resellers and its Scientific Advisory Board, Medifast offers comprehensive wellness products and programs that focus on creating sustainable change by helping people learn to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. “

MED has been the subject of several other reports. DA Davidson boosted their price target on Medifast to $89.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, December 8th. ValuEngine cut Medifast from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Friday, December 1st. Finally, Sidoti reiterated a neutral rating and issued a $55.00 price target (up from $49.00) on shares of Medifast in a research note on Thursday, September 21st. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company. Medifast currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $75.00.

Shares of Medifast (NYSE MED) traded up $0.02 during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $70.32. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 14,110 shares, compared to its average volume of 80,061. The firm has a market capitalization of $846.81, a P/E ratio of 34.96, a PEG ratio of 1.82 and a beta of 0.50. Medifast has a 1 year low of $40.00 and a 1 year high of $74.78.

Medifast (NYSE:MED) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, November 7th. The specialty retailer reported $0.55 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.51 by $0.04. Medifast had a return on equity of 24.07% and a net margin of 8.58%. The firm had revenue of $77.20 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $74.94 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $0.51 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 12.5% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts anticipate that Medifast will post 2.17 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, February 8th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 22nd will be paid a $0.48 dividend. This represents a $1.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.73%. This is a boost from Medifast’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.32. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 21st. Medifast’s dividend payout ratio is presently 94.58%.

In related news, Director Glenn W. Welling sold 275,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, December 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $64.60, for a total value of $17,765,000.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director Glenn W. Welling sold 250,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, November 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.00, for a total value of $16,250,000.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 5.40% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of MED. American Century Companies Inc. grew its holdings in Medifast by 60.8% during the 3rd quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 301,115 shares of the specialty retailer’s stock worth $17,877,000 after acquiring an additional 113,885 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its holdings in Medifast by 217.1% during the 3rd quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 158,813 shares of the specialty retailer’s stock worth $9,468,000 after acquiring an additional 108,736 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of Medifast by 81.7% during the 3rd quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 166,311 shares of the specialty retailer’s stock worth $9,874,000 after purchasing an additional 74,802 shares in the last quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of Medifast by 197.0% during the 2nd quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 89,606 shares of the specialty retailer’s stock worth $3,716,000 after purchasing an additional 59,437 shares in the last quarter. Finally, EAM Investors LLC bought a new position in shares of Medifast during the 3rd quarter worth about $2,751,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 86.69% of the company’s stock.

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About Medifast

Medifast, Inc produces, distributes and sells weight loss, weight management, and healthy living products, and other consumable health and nutritional products. The Company’s product lines include weight loss, weight management, and healthy living meal replacements, snacks, hydration products, and vitamins.

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