Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) Raised to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report published on Friday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $182.00 price objective on the railroad operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “We are impressed with Norfolk Southern's efforts to control costs and improve efficiencies. As a result of lower costs, operating ratio has been constantly improving. Initiatives to reward its shareholders through dividends and buybacks are also impressive. In 2018, the company rewarded its shareholders in excess of $3.6 billion. Continuing the trend, in the first half of 2019, the company returned $1.5 billion through dividends and buybacks. In July 2019, Norfolk Southern increased its quarterly dividend by 9% to 94 cents per share. Backed by these tailwinds, shares of Norfolk Southern have outperformed its industry in a year's time. However, sluggish volumes are likely to have impacted the company’s third-quarter 2019 performance. Detailed results should be out on Oct 23. We are also concerned about its high debt levels.”

Other equities analysts have also recently issued research reports about the stock. Morgan Stanley set a $130.00 target price on shares of Norfolk Southern and gave the stock a sell rating in a report on Monday, July 8th. Goldman Sachs Group began coverage on shares of Norfolk Southern in a report on Wednesday, July 10th. They issued a buy rating and a $237.00 target price on the stock. ValuEngine cut shares of Norfolk Southern from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, July 17th. Bank of America cut their target price on shares of Norfolk Southern from $212.00 to $198.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, October 8th. Finally, UBS Group cut their target price on shares of Norfolk Southern from $230.00 to $216.00 and set a buy rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, September 17th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. Norfolk Southern presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $203.78.

Shares of NSC stock traded up $0.04 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $178.54. 1,154,600 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,646,194. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.72, a quick ratio of 0.68 and a current ratio of 0.78. The business’s 50-day simple moving average is $176.11 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $189.95. Norfolk Southern has a one year low of $138.65 and a one year high of $211.46. The stock has a market capitalization of $45.31 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.77, a P/E/G ratio of 1.56 and a beta of 1.36.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, July 24th. The railroad operator reported $2.70 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.77 by ($0.07). Norfolk Southern had a return on equity of 18.24% and a net margin of 24.15%. The business had revenue of $2.93 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.95 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $2.50 EPS. The business’s revenue was up .9% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, analysts anticipate that Norfolk Southern will post 10.39 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other news, Director Jennifer F. Scanlon purchased 525 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 29th. The shares were bought at an average price of $191.52 per share, for a total transaction of $100,548.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now owns 525 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $100,548. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. 0.19% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Bigelow Investment Advisors LLC grew its position in Norfolk Southern by 1.0% in the second quarter. Bigelow Investment Advisors LLC now owns 5,409 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $1,078,000 after buying an additional 55 shares during the last quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. grew its position in Norfolk Southern by 18.4% in the second quarter. Contravisory Investment Management Inc. now owns 360 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $72,000 after buying an additional 56 shares during the last quarter. Unison Advisors LLC grew its position in Norfolk Southern by 0.4% in the second quarter. Unison Advisors LLC now owns 12,654 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $2,522,000 after buying an additional 56 shares during the last quarter. Savant Capital LLC grew its position in Norfolk Southern by 1.0% in the second quarter. Savant Capital LLC now owns 6,141 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $1,224,000 after buying an additional 62 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Rehmann Capital Advisory Group grew its position in Norfolk Southern by 2.5% in the first quarter. Rehmann Capital Advisory Group now owns 2,582 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $483,000 after buying an additional 63 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.28% of the company’s stock.

About Norfolk Southern

Norfolk Southern Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods. The company transports industrial products, including chemicals, agriculture, and metals and construction materials; and coal, automobiles, and automotive parts.

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