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

A number of equities research analysts have 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 report on Wednesday, July 6th. Hilliard Lyons lowered shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Thursday, May 26th. Finally, Sidoti assumed coverage on shares of 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 50 day moving average price of $62.21 and a 200 day moving average price of $54.90. The company has a market cap of $1.80 billion and a PE ratio of 29.04.

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

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, August 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, July 29th will be given a dividend of $0.4675 per share. This represents a $1.87 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.86%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, July 27th.

In other news, CEO Gregg S. Kantor sold 1,000 shares of the company’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 transaction of $56,860.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 30,997 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,762,489.42. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, SVP Mardilyn Saathoff sold 5,000 shares of the company’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 value of $296,100.00. Following the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 7,012 shares in the company, valued at $415,250.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Principal Financial Group Inc. raised its position 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 during the last quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. raised its position 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 during the last quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 1.8% in the fourth quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System now owns 50,700 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,566,000 after buying an additional 880 shares during the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% in the fourth quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 49,151 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,488,000 after buying an additional 985 shares during the last quarter. Finally, TD Asset Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 67.0% in the fourth quarter. TD Asset Management Inc. now owns 40,611 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,055,000 after buying an additional 16,300 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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