Williams Partners (WPZ) Cut to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report issued on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Williams Partners’ increasing debt load, which is weighing on the partnership’s balance sheet, could raise liquidity issues. Also, unfavorable government ruling for environmental needs could delay the partnership’s current and upcoming pipeline projects. Moreover, the partnership’s earnings lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate during the fourth quarter of 2017. The downside was mainly due to higher operating and maintenance expenses.  Compared to the S&P 500, the Williams Partners’ stock is overvalued as its trailing 12-month EV/EBITDA ratio  of 14.6, is above the S&P 500 ratio of 13.6. Hence, it might be a good idea to stay away from stocks belonging to this industry.”

Several other equities analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Stifel Nicolaus set a $48.00 price objective on shares of Williams Partners and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Saturday. Credit Suisse Group assumed coverage on shares of Williams Partners in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $48.00 price objective for the company. Barclays cut shares of Williams Partners from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and reduced their price objective for the company from $47.00 to $45.00 in a research note on Wednesday, January 17th. Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $47.00 price objective on shares of Williams Partners in a research note on Tuesday, January 16th. Finally, US Capital Advisors raised shares of Williams Partners from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, January 4th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and eight have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Williams Partners currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $46.20.

Williams Partners (NYSE:WPZ) traded down $1.08 on Monday, hitting $38.90. 1,254,800 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 1,480,055. The stock has a market capitalization of $37,881.64, a P/E ratio of 41.83, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.66 and a beta of 1.42. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.65, a current ratio of 1.06 and a quick ratio of 0.99. Williams Partners has a 52-week low of $34.74 and a 52-week high of $44.06.

In other Williams Partners news, insider John D. Seldenrust sold 6,770 shares of Williams Partners stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $38.76, for a total transaction of $262,405.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership bought a new stake in Williams Partners during the second quarter valued at approximately $241,000. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS lifted its position in Williams Partners by 15.3% during the third quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 3,636,305 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $141,452,000 after purchasing an additional 482,557 shares during the last quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC lifted its position in Williams Partners by 289.9% during the third quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 226,881 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $8,826,000 after purchasing an additional 168,690 shares during the last quarter. Oxbow Advisors LLC lifted its position in Williams Partners by 36.6% during the third quarter. Oxbow Advisors LLC now owns 135,220 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $5,260,000 after purchasing an additional 36,200 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Cincinnati Insurance Co. lifted its position in Williams Partners by 21.6% during the third quarter. Cincinnati Insurance Co. now owns 143,438 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $5,580,000 after purchasing an additional 25,486 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 21.78% of the company’s stock.

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About Williams Partners

Williams Partners L.P. is an energy infrastructure company. The Company has operations across the natural gas value chain from gathering, processing, and interstate transportation of natural gas and natural gas liquids to petchem production of ethylene, propylene, and other olefins. It operates through its Northeast G&P, Atlantic-Gulf, West segment.

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