Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:NWN) shares saw unusually-strong trading volume on Monday . Approximately 226,250 shares traded hands during trading, an increase of 101% from the previous session’s volume of 112,349 shares.The stock last traded at $64.33 and had previously closed at $64.94.

A number of research analysts have recently commented on NWN shares. Zacks Investment Research raised Northwest Natural Gas from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $73.00 price target on the stock in a report on Wednesday, July 6th. Sidoti started coverage on Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, April 25th. They set a “buy” rating and a $66.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Hilliard Lyons lowered Northwest Natural Gas from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Thursday, May 26th.

The stock has a market cap of $1.77 billion and a PE ratio of 28.53. The stock has a 50-day moving average price of $63.40 and a 200-day moving average price of $55.57.

The company also recently disclosed 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 2.91%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, July 27th.

In other news, VP Lori L. Russell sold 1,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.26, for a total transaction of $71,112.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 2,543 shares in the company, valued at $150,698.18. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, SVP Mardilyn Saathoff sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.22, for a total value of $296,100.00. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 7,012 shares in the company, valued at $415,250.64. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. New York State Common Retirement Fund boosted its stake 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 worth $1,301,000 after buying an additional 800 shares in the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers raised its stake 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 valued at $2,488,000 after buying an additional 985 shares in the last quarter. US Bancorp DE raised its stake in shares of 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 in the last quarter. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. raised 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 valued at $9,456,000 after buying an additional 14,591 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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