NW Natural (NWN) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

NW Natural (NYSE:NWN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday. The firm currently has a $66.00 target price on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective indicates a potential upside of 13.11% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “NorthWest Natural Gas Company is headquartered in Portland, OR, and provides natural gas service to the residential, commercial and industrial customers in western Oregon and southwestern Washington. NW Natural and its subsidiaries currently own and operate Bcf of underground gas storage capacity in Oregon and California. “

Several other equities analysts also recently weighed in on NWN. Wells Fargo decreased their target price on NW Natural from $62.00 to $52.00 and set an “underperform” rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, February 26th. Bank of America started coverage on NW Natural in a research report on Tuesday, February 27th. They issued an “underperform” rating on the stock. Hilliard Lyons upgraded NW Natural from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research report on Tuesday, February 27th. ValuEngine upgraded NW Natural from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, April 27th. Finally, TheStreet upgraded NW Natural from a “c” rating to a “b” rating in a research report on Tuesday, May 8th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating, one has issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. NW Natural currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $61.00.

NYSE NWN opened at $58.35 on Friday. The company has a market capitalization of $1.72 billion, a PE ratio of 26.05, a PEG ratio of 6.73 and a beta of 0.35. NW Natural has a 1-year low of $58.90 and a 1-year high of $60.00. The company has a current ratio of 0.76, a quick ratio of 0.65 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.89.

NW Natural (NYSE:NWN) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, May 8th. The utilities provider reported $1.44 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.41 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $264.70 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $296.20 million. NW Natural had a positive return on equity of 8.14% and a negative net margin of 7.46%. The business’s quarterly revenue was down 11.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $1.40 earnings per share. research analysts predict that NW Natural will post 2.22 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, Director Malia H. Wasson acquired 2,000 shares of NW Natural stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, February 27th. The shares were purchased at an average price of $53.84 per share, for a total transaction of $107,680.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 523 shares in the company, valued at approximately $28,158.32. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Company insiders own 1.19% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in NW Natural by 2.7% during the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,848,376 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $221,861,000 after buying an additional 100,659 shares in the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its stake in NW Natural by 0.5% during the first quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 888,223 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $51,206,000 after acquiring an additional 4,169 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its stake in NW Natural by 9.8% during the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 579,421 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $33,403,000 after acquiring an additional 51,721 shares during the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its stake in NW Natural by 8.3% during the fourth quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 450,700 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $26,884,000 after acquiring an additional 34,500 shares during the last quarter. Finally, First Trust Advisors LP increased its stake in NW Natural by 20.1% during the fourth quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 403,053 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $24,042,000 after acquiring an additional 67,493 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 66.98% of the company’s stock.

About NW Natural

Northwest Natural Gas Company engages in gas distribution and storage businesses in the United States. It operates in two segments, Local Gas Distribution and Gas Storage. The Local Gas Distribution segment engages in the purchase, sale, and delivery of natural gas and related services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and southwest Washington.

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