Brokerages Set $52.50 Price Target for Unitil Co. (UTL)

Shares of Unitil Co. (NYSE:UTL) have earned a consensus broker rating score of 2.50 (Hold) from the two analysts that provide coverage for the stock, Zacks Investment Research reports. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell recommendation and one has given a strong buy recommendation to the company.

Brokerages have set a 12 month consensus target price of $52.50 for the company and are predicting that the company will post $0.98 earnings per share for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Zacks has also given Unitil an industry rank of 55 out of 255 based on the ratings given to its competitors.

A number of analysts recently commented on the stock. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Unitil from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Saturday. Bank of America reissued an “underperform” rating and set a $51.00 price objective (up previously from $48.00) on shares of Unitil in a report on Friday. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Unitil from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, November 21st.

Shares of Unitil stock traded down $0.78 on Friday, reaching $51.68. 51,393 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 32,027. Unitil has a 1-year low of $40.92 and a 1-year high of $53.11. The company has a quick ratio of 0.63, a current ratio of 0.67 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.06. The firm has a market cap of $768.64 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.17, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 6.18 and a beta of 0.09.

Unitil (NYSE:UTL) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, January 31st. The utilities provider reported $0.74 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.70 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $125.60 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $120.10 million. Unitil had a net margin of 7.43% and a return on equity of 9.52%. Equities research analysts anticipate that Unitil will post 2.26 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, February 28th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, February 14th will be issued a $0.37 dividend. This represents a $1.48 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.86%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, February 13th. This is an increase from Unitil’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.37. Unitil’s dividend payout ratio is 65.47%.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Dupont Capital Management Corp purchased a new stake in shares of Unitil in the fourth quarter valued at about $852,000. Rhumbline Advisers lifted its stake in shares of Unitil by 48.2% during the fourth quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 21,153 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,071,000 after buying an additional 6,875 shares during the period. Advisors Asset Management Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Unitil by 95.8% during the fourth quarter. Advisors Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,876 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $95,000 after buying an additional 918 shares during the period. Quantamental Technologies LLC purchased a new position in shares of Unitil during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $25,000. Finally, First National Bank of Omaha lifted its stake in shares of Unitil by 7.9% during the fourth quarter. First National Bank of Omaha now owns 13,270 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $672,000 after buying an additional 971 shares during the period. 65.04% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Unitil

Unitil Corporation, a public utility holding company, engages in the distribution of electricity and natural gas in the United States. It operates through three segments: Utility Gas Operations, Utility Electric Operations, and Non-Regulated. The company distributes electricity in the southeastern seacoast and state capital regions of New Hampshire, and the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts; and distributes natural gas in southeastern New Hampshire, portions of southern Maine to the Lewiston-Auburn area, and in the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts.

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