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Report: Citi Research upgrades Wal-Mart to 'buy' from 'neutral'

Citi Research, Citigroup Inc.'s economic and market analysis arm, upgraded its rating for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to 'buy' from 'neutral,' while also raising its earnings per share estimate and price target, CNBC reported Dec. 19, citing Citi analyst Kate McShane's Dec. 18 note to clients.

The rating reflects the department store operator's "aggressive omni-channel strategy," which Citi believes will continue to drive significant sales growth. McShane raised her fiscal 2019 earnings per share estimate for Wal-Mart to $4.73 from $4.57, and bumped her price target for the retailer's shares to $117 from $106, according to the report.

Citi reportedly noted that Wal-Mart's e-commerce operations could take on e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.

McShane expects the company to report "better-than-expected" sales and profit margin results in the second half of 2018 due to "supply chain efficiencies" and its recent acquisitions, including Jet.com and New York-based delivery startup Parcel Inc, according to the CNBC report.