Williams Partners LP (WPZ) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Williams Partners LP (NYSE:WPZ) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Monday, July 17th.

According to Zacks, “Williams Partners’ natural gas infrastructure assets comprise the fastest growing pipeline networks that carry the highest volumes of natural gas in the U.S. from the best supply basins in North America. We appreciate the partnership’s intention of allocating capital budget toward the expansion of the Transco pipeline system that will provide stable fee-based revenues. However, increasing debt load, which is weighing on the partnership’s balance sheet, could delay pipeline expansions. Moreover, the pricing chart shows that Williams Partners has underperformed the Zacks categorized Energy & Pipeline MLP industry over the last one year. Also, unfavorable government ruling for environmental needs could delay the partnership’s current and upcoming pipeline projects.”

Several other analysts have also issued reports on WPZ. BMO Capital Markets set a $47.00 target price on shares of Williams Partners and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, March 22nd. Royal Bank Of Canada restated a hold rating and set a $43.00 price target on shares of Williams Partners in a research report on Friday, March 24th. Citigroup Inc. upgraded shares of Williams Partners from a neutral rating to a buy rating and boosted their price target for the stock from $41.00 to $46.00 in a research report on Friday, April 7th. Credit Suisse Group upgraded shares of Williams Partners from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and boosted their price target for the stock from $45.00 to $47.00 in a research report on Friday, May 12th. Finally, TheStreet upgraded shares of Williams Partners from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a research report on Tuesday, May 30th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating, eleven have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Williams Partners presently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $44.77.

Shares of Williams Partners (WPZ) traded up 0.23% during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $38.66. The stock had a trading volume of 1,004,591 shares. Williams Partners has a 52-week low of $32.93 and a 52-week high of $42.32. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $40.06 and its 200-day moving average price is $40.23. The firm has a market cap of $36.95 billion, a PE ratio of 23.25 and a beta of 1.43.

Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The pipeline company reported $0.33 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.42 by $0.09. Williams Partners had a net margin of 17.82% and a return on equity of 5.90%. The company had revenue of $1.92 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.13 billion. On average, analysts anticipate that Williams Partners will post $0.76 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, August 11th. Investors of record on Friday, August 4th will be paid a dividend of $0.60 per share. This represents a $2.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 6.21%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, August 2nd. Williams Partners’s payout ratio is currently 143.71%.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its stake in shares of Williams Partners by 60.7% in the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 427,534 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $17,148,000 after buying an additional 161,500 shares during the last quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC increased its stake in shares of Williams Partners by 297.5% in the second quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 653,260 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $26,202,000 after buying an additional 488,919 shares during the last quarter. Cbre Clarion Securities LLC increased its stake in shares of Williams Partners by 7.6% in the second quarter. Cbre Clarion Securities LLC now owns 269,111 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $10,794,000 after buying an additional 18,900 shares during the last quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Williams Partners during the second quarter valued at $305,000. Finally, M&T Bank Corp increased its stake in shares of Williams Partners by 1.2% in the second quarter. M&T Bank Corp now owns 37,811 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $1,517,000 after buying an additional 459 shares during the last quarter. 23.94% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Williams Partners Company Profile

Williams Partners L.P. is an energy infrastructure company. The Company has operations across the natural gas value chain from gathering, processing, and interstate transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids to petchem production of ethylene, propylene, and other olefins. It operates through its Northeast G&P, Atlantic-Gulf, West segment.

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