Shares of Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) gapped up prior to trading 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.

SWX has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. BB&T Corp. initiated coverage on Southwest Gas Corp. in a research note on Wednesday, March 30th. They issued a “hold” rating on the stock. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Southwest Gas Corp. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $72.00 target price on the stock in a research note on Thursday, April 28th. Finally, Argus lowered Southwest Gas Corp. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, May 31st.

The firm has a market cap of $3.74 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 26.44. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $75.95 and a 200-day moving average price of $66.25.

Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Monday, May 9th. The company reported $1.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.62 by $0.04. The firm earned $731.25 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $754.38 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $1.53 earnings per share. Equities research analysts expect that Southwest Gas Corp. will post $3.21 EPS for the current year.

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

In other news, CFO Roy R. Centrella sold 1,000 shares of Southwest Gas Corp. stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $69.50, for a total value of $69,500.00. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now directly owns 32,564 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,263,198. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Edward A. Janov sold 700 shares of Southwest Gas Corp. stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, May 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $68.29, for a total value of $47,803.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 33,220 shares in the company, valued at $2,268,593.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Comerica Bank raised its stake in shares of 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 in the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund raised its stake in shares of 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 in the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers raised its stake in shares of Southwest Gas Corp. by 1.8% in the fourth quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 89,398 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,931,000 after buying an additional 1,585 shares in the last quarter. GAM Holding AG raised its stake in shares of 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 in the last quarter. Finally, Bank of Montreal Can raised its stake in shares of 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 in the last quarter.

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).

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