Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:NWN) reached a new 52-week high on Friday . The stock traded as high as $65.93 and last traded at $65.70, with a volume of 29,665 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at $65.06.

Several equities research analysts recently weighed in on NWN shares. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 13th. Hilliard Lyons downgraded Northwest Natural Gas from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Thursday, May 26th. Finally, Sidoti started coverage on Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, April 25th. They set a “buy” rating and a $66.00 price objective on the stock.

The company has a market capitalization of $1.81 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 29.12. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $61.93 and a 200 day moving average of $54.79.

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

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, August 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, July 29th will be issued a dividend of $0.4675 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, July 27th. This represents a $1.87 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.87%.

In other Northwest Natural Gas news, VP Lori L. Russell sold 1,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.26, for a total transaction of $71,112.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 2,543 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $150,698.18. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, CEO Gregg S. Kantor sold 1,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.86, for a total transaction of $56,860.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 30,997 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,762,489.42. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds and institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in NWN. US Bancorp DE boosted its position in Northwest Natural Gas by 10.6% in the fourth quarter. US Bancorp DE now owns 23,010 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,164,000 after buying an additional 2,199 shares during the last quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its position in Northwest Natural Gas by 8.5% in the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 186,840 shares of the company’s stock valued at $9,456,000 after buying an additional 14,591 shares during the last quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC boosted its position in 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 valued at $8,416,000 after buying an additional 5,770 shares during the last quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. boosted its position in 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 valued at $3,752,000 after buying an additional 50,498 shares during the last quarter. Finally, New York State Common Retirement Fund boosted its position in Northwest Natural Gas by 3.2% in the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 25,700 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,301,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during 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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