Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:NWN) hit a new 52-week high during trading on Wednesday . The company traded as high as $65.75 and last traded at $65.15, with a volume of 34,288 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $65.37.

A number of equities research analysts have recently commented on the stock. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $73.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Wednesday. Hilliard Lyons cut shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research note on Thursday, May 26th. Finally, Sidoti assumed coverage on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research note on Monday, April 25th. They set a “buy” rating and a $66.00 price objective on the stock.

The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $59.32 and its 200 day moving average price is $53.82. The firm has a market cap of $1.75 billion and a PE ratio of 28.29.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, May 3rd. The company reported $1.40 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.25 by $0.15. The business had revenue of $255.50 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $273.05 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.37 EPS. Northwest Natural Gas’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.4% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts expect that Northwest Natural Gas Co. will post $2.22 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, August 15th. Investors of record on Friday, July 29th will be paid a dividend of $0.4675 per share. This represents a $1.87 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.93%.

In related news, SVP Mardilyn Saathoff sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.22, for a total transaction of $296,100.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 7,012 shares in the company, valued at $415,250.64. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, CEO Gregg S. Kantor sold 1,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.86, for a total value of $56,860.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 30,997 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,762,489.42. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Other large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP boosted its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 6.8% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 731,996 shares of the company’s stock worth $37,047,000 after buying an additional 46,418 shares in the last quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 8.5% in the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 186,840 shares of the company’s stock worth $9,456,000 after buying an additional 14,591 shares in the last quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 3.6% in the fourth quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC now owns 166,294 shares of the company’s stock worth $8,416,000 after buying an additional 5,770 shares in the last quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. boosted its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 213.6% in the fourth quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. now owns 74,136 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,752,000 after buying an additional 50,498 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Morgan Stanley boosted its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 13.6% in the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 57,758 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,923,000 after buying an additional 6,897 shares in the last quarter.

Northwest Natural Gas Company is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries. The local gas distribution business, referred to as the utility segment, serves residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and southwest Washington.

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