Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) Lifted to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Saturday, November 18th. They currently have $75.00 target price 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. “

Separately, BidaskClub raised shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Thursday, July 27th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating, two have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Northwest Natural Gas currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $66.33.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) opened at $68.75 on Friday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.89, a quick ratio of 0.69 and a current ratio of 0.98. The firm has a market cap of $1,963.97, a P/E ratio of 31.09, a PEG ratio of 7.00 and a beta of 0.39. Northwest Natural Gas has a 1-year low of $56.40 and a 1-year high of $69.50.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its earnings results on Friday, November 3rd. The utilities provider reported ($0.30) earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of ($0.31) by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $88.20 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $91.19 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.32% and a return on equity of 7.31%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $1.18 EPS. sell-side analysts anticipate that Northwest Natural Gas will post 2.17 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, November 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, October 31st were issued a $0.4725 dividend. This represents a $1.89 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.75%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, October 30th. This is a positive change from Northwest Natural Gas’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. Northwest Natural Gas’s payout ratio is presently 85.91%.

In related news, Director Martha L. Byorum sold 1,202 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.88, for a total value of $77,985.76. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 1,202 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $77,985.76. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. 1.48% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio boosted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% during 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 during the last quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. boosted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 61.0% during the 2nd quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 2,111 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $126,000 after purchasing an additional 800 shares during the last quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 88.6% during the 2nd quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 2,263 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $136,000 after purchasing an additional 1,063 shares during the last quarter. Creative Planning boosted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.3% during 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 during the last quarter. Finally, Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. boosted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 6.4% during the 2nd quarter. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. now owns 2,496 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $149,000 after purchasing an additional 150 shares during the last quarter. 64.62% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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About Northwest Natural Gas

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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