Northwest Natural (NWN) Upgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Northwest Natural Holding Company builds and maintains natural gas distribution systems, as well as invests in natural gas pipeline projects through its subsidiaries. It serves residential, commercial and industrial customers primarily in the United States, Canada and Service Territory. Northwest Natural Holding Company, formerly known as NW Natural Gas Company, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. “

Separately, ValuEngine cut shares of Northwest Natural from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 8th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Northwest Natural has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $61.60.

Northwest Natural stock opened at $66.98 on Thursday. Northwest Natural has a 1-year low of $51.50 and a 1-year high of $71.81. The company has a market capitalization of $1.93 billion, a P/E ratio of 29.90, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 6.94 and a beta of 0.28. The company has a quick ratio of 0.43, a current ratio of 0.57 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.98.

Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, November 6th. The utilities provider reported ($0.41) earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.37) by ($0.04). Northwest Natural had a negative net margin of 8.52% and a positive return on equity of 7.97%. The business had revenue of $91.20 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $98.42 million. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 3.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted ($0.30) earnings per share. Sell-side analysts forecast that Northwest Natural will post 2.23 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, November 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, October 31st were given a $0.475 dividend. This is a boost from Northwest Natural’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, October 30th. This represents a $1.90 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.84%. Northwest Natural’s payout ratio is presently 84.82%.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in NWN. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 6.4% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,093,462 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $261,163,000 after acquiring an additional 245,086 shares during the period. WINTON GROUP Ltd purchased a new position in shares of Northwest Natural in the third quarter valued at about $7,071,000. Confluence Investment Management LLC purchased a new position in shares of Northwest Natural in the third quarter valued at about $5,991,000. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 12.6% during the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 637,600 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $40,679,000 after buying an additional 71,300 shares during the period. Finally, Parnassus Investments CA increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 12.7% during the second quarter. Parnassus Investments CA now owns 447,973 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $28,581,000 after buying an additional 50,473 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 65.83% of the company’s stock.

Northwest Natural Company Profile

Northwest Natural Holding Company, through its subsidiary, NW Natural Gas Company, operates as a regulated natural gas distribution company. The company serves approximately 740,000 natural gas customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington through 14,000 miles of pipeline systems in the United States.

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