Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) gapped up before the market opened on Friday . The stock had previously closed at $77.71, but opened at $77.74. Southwest Gas Corp. shares last traded at $78.74, with a volume of 104,294 shares traded.

A number of equities research analysts recently issued reports on SWX shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Southwest Gas Corp. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 price objective on the stock in a research report on Thursday, April 28th. BB&T Corp. started coverage on Southwest Gas Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, March 30th. They issued a “hold” rating on the stock. Finally, Argus downgraded Southwest Gas Corp. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, May 31st.

The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $75.95 and a 200 day moving average price of $66.25. The firm has a market cap of $3.74 billion and a P/E ratio of 26.44.

Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Monday, May 9th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.62 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $731.25 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $754.38 million. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $1.53 EPS. Analysts expect that Southwest Gas Corp. will post $3.21 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 15th will be given a $0.45 dividend. This represents a $1.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.28%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, August 11th.

In other Southwest Gas Corp. news, SVP Edward A. Janov sold 600 shares of Southwest Gas Corp. stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, June 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $74.36, for a total value of $44,616.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 32,620 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,425,623.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, CEO John P. Hester sold 2,000 shares of Southwest Gas Corp. stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.03, for a total transaction of $150,060.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 52,855 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,965,710.65. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of large investors recently bought and sold shares of SWX. GAM Holding AG increased its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 79.1% in the fourth quarter. GAM Holding AG now owns 31,700 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,749,000 after buying an additional 14,000 shares during the period. Bank of Montreal Can increased its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 106.6% in the fourth quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 35,293 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,947,000 after buying an additional 18,207 shares during the period. State of Tennessee Treasury Department bought a new stake in Southwest Gas Corp. during the fourth quarter worth approximately $2,024,000. New York State Common Retirement Fund increased its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 2.3% in the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 43,800 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,416,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Finally, Comerica Bank increased its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 1.0% in the fourth quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 48,054 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,708,000 after buying an additional 464 shares during the period.

Southwest Gas Corporation is engaged in the business of purchasing, distributing and transporting natural gas in Arizona, Nevada and California. The Company operates through two segments: natural gas operations and construction services, which includes the operations of the Company’s subsidiary, Centuri Construction Group, Inc, (Centuri).

Get Analysts' Upgrades and Downgrades Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of analysts' upgrades, downgrades and new coverage with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.