SLM Co. (NASDAQ:SLM) was the target of a significant growth in short interest during the month of December. As of December 15th, there was short interest totalling 4,940,000 shares, a growth of 23.2% from the November 30th total of 4,010,000 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 2,050,000 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 2.4 days. Approximately 1.7% of the shares of the stock are sold short.
Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in SLM. Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. acquired a new position in SLM in the second quarter valued at about $25,000. First Quadrant L P CA acquired a new position in SLM in the third quarter valued at about $32,000. Advisory Services Network LLC acquired a new position in SLM in the second quarter valued at about $84,000. LPL Financial LLC acquired a new position in SLM in the third quarter valued at about $193,000. Finally, M&T Bank Corp acquired a new position in SLM in the second quarter valued at about $211,000. 95.56% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
A number of equities analysts have recently commented on the stock. Jefferies Financial Group reiterated a "buy" rating and set a $24.00 price target on shares of SLM in a report on Thursday, December 30th. Credit Suisse Group boosted their target price on shares of SLM from $24.00 to $25.00 and gave the company an "outperform" rating in a research note on Friday, October 22nd. Royal Bank of Canada upped their price target on shares of SLM from $20.00 to $22.00 and gave the company an "outperform" rating in a research note on Friday, October 22nd. Finally, Stephens upped their target price on shares of SLM from $23.00 to $24.00 and gave the stock an "overweight" rating in a report on Friday, October 22nd. One analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating, six have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. Based on data from MarketBeat, the company currently has a consensus rating of "Buy" and a consensus target price of $23.61.
Shares of SLM traded up $0.25 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $20.44. The stock had a trading volume of 72,065 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,446,106. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.78, a quick ratio of 1.23 and a current ratio of 1.23. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $18.69 and a 200 day moving average price of $18.69. SLM has a fifty-two week low of $12.02 and a fifty-two week high of $21.40. The firm has a market capitalization of $5.99 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 5.67 and a beta of 1.29.
SLM (NASDAQ:SLM) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 19th. The credit services provider reported $0.24 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.17 by $0.07. The company had revenue of $357.52 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $342.52 million. SLM had a net margin of 56.48% and a return on equity of 60.87%. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.47 EPS. As a group, analysts predict that SLM will post 3.57 EPS for the current fiscal year.
SLM announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback plan on Wednesday, October 20th that permits the company to repurchase $250.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the credit services provider to buy up to 4.5% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are usually a sign that the company's management believes its stock is undervalued.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, December 15th. Investors of record on Friday, December 3rd were issued a $0.11 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, December 2nd. This represents a $0.44 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.15%. This is a positive change from SLM's previous quarterly dividend of $0.03. SLM's dividend payout ratio is currently 12.36%.
SLM Corp. engages in the provision and administration of education loans. Its services include private education loans, banking, college savings, and insurance services. The company was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Newark, DE.
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