Norfolk Southern (NSC) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Norfolk Southern have underperformed its industry over the last six months. Adding to its woes, the company recently unveiled a disappointing current-quarter outlook for automotive and coal volumes. Automotive weakness is expected to hurt the broader merchandise segment in the first quarter of 2018. Automotive volume is struggling due to sluggish vehicle production in the United States. Moreover, the company said that expenses in the quarter is likely to increase due to lower velocity. The company's high debt levels also raise concerns. Detailed results are expected to be out on Apr 25. We are, however, impressed by the company’s focus on rewarding shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.”

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Other research analysts have also recently issued research reports about the stock. Credit Suisse Group restated a buy rating and issued a $177.00 target price on shares of Norfolk Southern in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Scotiabank upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern from a sector perform rating to a buy rating and set a $165.00 target price on the stock in a report on Friday, January 12th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a hold rating and issued a $156.00 price target on shares of Norfolk Southern in a report on Monday, January 8th. Finally, Cleveland Research reiterated a hold rating on shares of Norfolk Southern in a report on Monday, January 15th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fourteen have issued a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Norfolk Southern currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $139.60.

Shares of Norfolk Southern stock opened at $129.36 on Wednesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.84, a quick ratio of 0.76 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.56. Norfolk Southern has a 52-week low of $111.07 and a 52-week high of $157.15. The company has a market capitalization of $37,970.42, a PE ratio of 19.57, a PEG ratio of 1.32 and a beta of 1.31.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, January 24th. The railroad operator reported $1.69 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.56 by $0.13. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 51.22% and a return on equity of 14.16%. The firm had revenue of $2.67 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.66 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $1.42 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 7.2% on a year-over-year basis. analysts predict that Norfolk Southern will post 8.42 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, March 10th. Shareholders of record on Friday, February 2nd were given a dividend of $0.72 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 1st. This represents a $2.88 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.23%. This is a positive change from Norfolk Southern’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. Norfolk Southern’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 43.57%.

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 transaction of $1,501,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 1,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, February 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $142.90, for a total value of $142,900.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 13,166 shares of company stock valued at $1,958,040 in the last three months. Insiders own 0.36% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. American Century Companies Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern by 124.5% in the 4th quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 1,231,991 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $178,515,000 after purchasing an additional 683,170 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.9% in the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 20,925,021 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $3,032,037,000 after purchasing an additional 584,131 shares during the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern by 26,372.2% in the 4th quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 476,500 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $69,045,000 after purchasing an additional 474,700 shares during the last quarter. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern by 66.4% in the 4th quarter. Thrivent Financial For Lutherans now owns 1,180,634 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $171,073,000 after purchasing an additional 471,036 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern by 61.2% in the 3rd quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 1,143,908 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $151,270,000 after purchasing an additional 434,160 shares during the last quarter. 72.48% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Norfolk Southern Company Profile

Norfolk Southern Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods. It also transports overseas freight through various Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, as well as coal, automotive, and industrial products; and provides commuter passenger services.

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