Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.
According to Zacks, “Shares of Norfolk Southern have outperformed its industry in the last six months. The company expects intermodal and merchandise networks to drive growth going forward. It is looking to cut costs in order to drive the bottom line. Norfolk Southern aims to achieve an operating ratio of below 65% by 2020 or even earlier. The company also has an impressive track recrd with respect to dividends. Its decision taken in January, to increase quarterly dividend payout by 18% is encouraging. Automotive volume, however, is likely to struggle going forward due to sluggish vehicle production in the United States. The company's high debt levels are another cause of concern. Notably, the company exited 2017 with long-term debt of more than $9.1 billion. “
NSC has been the topic of a number of other research reports. Credit Suisse Group reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $166.00 target price (down previously from $178.00) on shares of Norfolk Southern in a research report on Thursday, March 8th. Cowen reiterated an “outperform” rating and set a $163.00 target price (down previously from $165.00) on shares of Norfolk Southern in a research report on Wednesday, February 28th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. decreased their target price on Norfolk Southern from $154.00 to $151.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a research report on Thursday, January 25th. Morgan Stanley increased their target price on Norfolk Southern from $77.00 to $100.00 and gave the company an “underweight” rating in a research report on Thursday, January 25th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada upgraded Norfolk Southern from an “underperform” rating to a “sector perform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 24th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have given a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Norfolk Southern has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $140.15.
Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 24th. The railroad operator reported $1.69 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.56 by $0.13. The business had revenue of $2.67 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.66 billion. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 51.22% and a return on equity of 14.16%. The business’s revenue was up 7.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.42 EPS. equities analysts forecast that Norfolk Southern will post 8.43 EPS for the current year.
In other Norfolk Southern news, Chairman James A. Squires sold 10,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $150.10, for a total value of $1,501,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 467 shares of Norfolk Southern stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $150.17, for a total value of $70,129.39. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 5,000 shares in the company, valued at approximately $750,850. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 13,166 shares of company stock worth $1,958,040 in the last 90 days. 0.36% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.
Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.9% during the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 20,925,021 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $3,032,037,000 after acquiring an additional 584,131 shares during the period. Alliancebernstein L.P. raised its holdings in shares of Norfolk Southern by 4.5% during the 4th quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 4,737,233 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $686,425,000 after acquiring an additional 205,394 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.1% during the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 2,819,766 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $407,666,000 after acquiring an additional 58,309 shares during the period. Deutsche Bank AG raised its holdings in shares of Norfolk Southern by 4.8% during the 4th quarter. Deutsche Bank AG now owns 1,726,899 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $250,220,000 after acquiring an additional 78,610 shares during the period. Finally, Legal & General Group Plc raised its holdings in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.7% during the 3rd quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 1,661,751 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $219,751,000 after acquiring an additional 43,131 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.50% of the company’s stock.
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About Norfolk Southern
Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest.
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