Northwest Natural Gas Company (NWN) Rating Increased to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Wednesday. They currently have $74.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

Several other research analysts also recently commented on the stock. Sidoti reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $75.00 price objective (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, June 19th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, July 19th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating, two have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $66.00.

Shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) opened at 67.60 on Wednesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.94 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.25 and a beta of 0.42. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52-week low of $53.50 and a 52-week high of $67.75. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $64.87 and a 200-day moving average of $61.30.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $136.24 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $78.51 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.38% and a return on equity of 7.51%. Northwest Natural Gas’s revenue for the quarter was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.07 EPS. Equities analysts expect that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.18 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, August 15th. Shareholders of record on Monday, July 31st were paid a $0.47 dividend. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.78%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, July 27th. Northwest Natural Gas’s dividend payout ratio is presently 85.07%.

In other Northwest Natural Gas news, CEO David Hugo Anderson sold 8,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, September 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.97, for a total value of $535,760.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 71,484 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,787,283.48. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, VP Lori L. Russell sold 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, September 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $66.93, for a total transaction of $133,860.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 3,512 shares in the company, valued at $235,058.16. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 14,000 shares of company stock worth $924,800 over the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 1.48% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Creative Planning lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. Creative Planning now owns 2,436 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $146,000 after purchasing an additional 8 shares in the last quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the 1st quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,200 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $130,000 after purchasing an additional 17 shares in the last quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% in the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 2,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $123,000 after purchasing an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. Peregrine Asset Advisers Inc. lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.3% in the 2nd quarter. Peregrine Asset Advisers Inc. now owns 3,525 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $211,000 after purchasing an additional 45 shares in the last quarter. Finally, State of Alaska Department of Revenue lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.9% in the 1st quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue now owns 3,160 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $186,000 after purchasing an additional 60 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 63.46% of the company’s stock.

Northwest Natural Gas Company Profile

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries.

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