Zacks: Unitil Co. (NYSE:UTL) Given Average Recommendation of “Sell” by Analysts

Unitil Co. (NYSE:UTL) has been assigned a consensus broker rating score of 3.50 (Sell) from the two brokers that cover the company, Zacks Investment Research reports. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell recommendation and one has issued a hold recommendation on the company. Unitil’s rating score has declined by 40% in the last 90 days as a result of various analysts’ upgrades and downgrades.

Brokerages have set a 12 month consensus price objective of $59.00 for the company and are anticipating that the company will post $0.14 EPS for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Zacks has also given Unitil an industry rank of 145 out of 256 based on the ratings given to related companies.

Several research analysts have weighed in on the company. Janney Montgomery Scott lowered Unitil from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $59.79 target price on the stock. in a research report on Friday, June 28th. Zacks Investment Research raised Unitil from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $69.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Saturday, July 20th.

In other Unitil news, VP Todd R. Black sold 500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $57.05, for a total value of $28,525.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 26,440 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,508,402. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. 2.39% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Geode Capital Management LLC increased its position in Unitil by 6.1% during the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 185,311 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $9,384,000 after purchasing an additional 10,696 shares during the last quarter. Bank of America Corp DE increased its position in shares of Unitil by 15.8% during the fourth quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 38,142 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,931,000 after acquiring an additional 5,206 shares during the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY increased its position in shares of Unitil by 330.1% during the fourth quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY now owns 4,507 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $228,000 after acquiring an additional 3,459 shares during the last quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans increased its position in shares of Unitil by 8.2% during the fourth quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans now owns 12,358 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $626,000 after acquiring an additional 937 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Legal & General Group Plc increased its position in shares of Unitil by 9.9% during the fourth quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 2,596 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $132,000 after acquiring an additional 234 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 67.05% of the company’s stock.

Shares of NYSE UTL traded up $0.89 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $59.30. 2,453 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 50,616. Unitil has a 1 year low of $46.21 and a 1 year high of $61.85. The firm has a market cap of $871.48 million, a PE ratio of 26.29, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 5.83 and a beta of 0.11. The company has a quick ratio of 0.64, a current ratio of 0.69 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.00. The business’s 50 day moving average is $59.28.

Unitil (NYSE:UTL) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 25th. The utilities provider reported $0.27 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.21 by $0.06. Unitil had a return on equity of 9.57% and a net margin of 9.84%. The business had revenue of $84.40 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $85.00 million. As a group, equities analysts expect that Unitil will post 2.32 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, August 29th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, August 15th will be given a $0.37 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 14th. This represents a $1.48 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.50%. Unitil’s dividend payout ratio is currently 66.37%.

Unitil Company Profile

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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