Westar Energy (WR) Lifted to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Westar Energy, Inc. is Kansas’ largest electric utility. Westar has 7,200 MW of electric generation capacity fueled by coal, uranium, natural gas, wind and landfill gas. They are a leader in electric transmission in Kansas. Their innovative customer service programs include mobile-enabled customer care, digital meters and paving the way for electric vehicle adoption. “

A number of other research firms also recently commented on WR. J P Morgan Chase & Co set a $58.00 price objective on Westar Energy and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Thursday, October 12th. Bank of America started coverage on Westar Energy in a report on Tuesday, October 24th. They issued a buy rating and a $57.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company upgraded Westar Energy from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $55.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Monday, October 2nd. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and five have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $55.75.

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) opened at $55.08 on Wednesday. Westar Energy has a 12-month low of $49.20 and a 12-month high of $57.50. The firm has a market capitalization of $7,826.54, a PE ratio of 22.85, a P/E/G ratio of 6.63 and a beta of 0.42. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.97, a quick ratio of 0.65 and a current ratio of 1.07.

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, October 31st. The utilities provider reported $1.11 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.20 by ($0.09). The business had revenue of $794.33 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $773.96 million. Westar Energy had a return on equity of 8.94% and a net margin of 13.32%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $1.09 earnings per share. analysts predict that Westar Energy will post 2.45 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 2nd. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 8th will be issued a $0.40 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 7th. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.90%. Westar Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 66.39%.

In other news, VP Larry D. Irick sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $54.38, for a total value of $271,900.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, CEO Mark A. Ruelle sold 37,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $54.35, for a total value of $2,010,950.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 55,100 shares of company stock worth $2,991,312. Company insiders own 0.70% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC grew its stake in shares of Westar Energy by 550.0% in the third quarter. Chicago Partners Investment Group LLC now owns 9,750 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $484,000 after buying an additional 8,250 shares in the last quarter. Opus Investment Management Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Westar Energy in the third quarter valued at about $680,000. California Public Employees Retirement System grew its stake in shares of Westar Energy by 9.7% in the third quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 333,181 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $16,526,000 after buying an additional 29,581 shares in the last quarter. Virtu Financial LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Westar Energy in the third quarter valued at about $356,000. Finally, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Westar Energy in the third quarter valued at about $212,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.66% of the company’s stock.

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About Westar Energy

Westar Energy, Inc is an electric utility. The Company provides electric generation, transmission and distribution services. The Company provides these services in central and northeastern Kansas, including the cities of Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan, Salina and Hutchinson. Its subsidiary, Kansas Gas and Electric Company (KGE), provides these services in south-central and southeastern Kansas, including the city of Wichita.

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