Williams Companies (WMB) Rating Increased to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Well positioned to take advantage of the nation's natural gas supply growth, Williams Companies' large-scale value-creating projects position it for strong returns even in a low commodity price environment. In particular, increased energy growth prospects in North America is set to unlock attractive opportunities, which is expected to position the company for long-term, sustainable revenues as well as solidify its credit profile. An attractive dividend growth and strong, sustainable coverage are other positives in the Williams story. However, we believe that the termination of the Energy Transfer merger deal was a big blow to the company. Williams’ high debt levels and continued hurdles in its Constitutional Pipeline Project have also been major concerns. Considering these factors, we take a cautious stance on WMB stock.”

WMB has been the topic of several other reports. ValuEngine cut shares of Williams Companies from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, March 1st. Bank of America started coverage on shares of Williams Companies in a research report on Tuesday, January 9th. They set a buy rating on the stock. Barclays cut shares of Williams Companies from an overweight rating to an equal weight rating and lowered their price target for the company from $36.00 to $35.00 in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Credit Suisse Group started coverage on shares of Williams Companies in a report on Thursday, January 4th. They set an outperform rating and a $36.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Morgan Stanley lowered their price target on shares of Williams Companies from $34.00 to $33.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a report on Friday, November 17th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $35.27.

Williams Companies stock opened at $26.20 on Friday. Williams Companies has a 52-week low of $24.76 and a 52-week high of $33.67. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.26, a quick ratio of 0.78 and a current ratio of 0.82. The firm has a market cap of $22,511.58, a P/E ratio of 10.00 and a beta of 1.38.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 14th. The pipeline company reported $0.20 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.20. Williams Companies had a net margin of 27.07% and a return on equity of 3.38%. The firm had revenue of $2.23 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.16 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted ($0.02) EPS. equities analysts anticipate that Williams Companies will post 0.79 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, March 26th. Investors of record on Friday, March 9th will be issued a $0.34 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 8th. This is a boost from Williams Companies’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.30. This represents a $1.36 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 5.19%. Williams Companies’s dividend payout ratio is currently 51.91%.

In related news, VP Ted T. Timmermans sold 2,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, February 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.28, for a total value of $56,560.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 17,945 shares in the company, valued at $507,484.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Kathleen B. Cooper sold 4,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, February 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $28.31, for a total transaction of $113,240.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 45,465 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,287,114.15. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 32,915 shares of company stock valued at $1,057,995 over the last quarter. 0.50% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Fuller & Thaler Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in Williams Companies during the 3rd quarter worth $105,000. Woodard & Co. Asset Management Group Inc. ADV acquired a new position in Williams Companies during the 4th quarter worth $112,000. SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC acquired a new position in Williams Companies during the 4th quarter worth $117,000. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC acquired a new position in Williams Companies during the 3rd quarter worth $172,000. Finally, Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. lifted its position in Williams Companies by 44.4% during the 3rd quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 6,550 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $197,000 after acquiring an additional 2,013 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 86.46% of the company’s stock.

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Williams Companies Company Profile

The Williams Companies, Inc is an energy infrastructure company. The Company is focused on connecting North America’s hydrocarbon resource plays to markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), and olefins. As of December 31, 2016, its interstate gas pipelines, midstream and olefins production interests were held through its investment in Williams Partners L.P.

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