Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE:NBL) shares fell 2.9% during mid-day trading on Wednesday . The stock traded as low as $33.20 and last traded at $33.45, with a volume of 3,969,430 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at $34.45.

Several research firms have recently issued reports on NBL. Simmons began coverage on Noble Energy in a research note on Wednesday, June 8th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $48.00 price objective for the company. Seaport Global Securities raised Noble Energy from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and upped their price objective for the company from $36.00 to $45.00 in a research note on Tuesday, June 7th. Credit Agricole SA initiated coverage on Noble Energy in a research note on Wednesday, June 22nd. They issued an “outperform” rating for the company. Sterne Agee CRT raised shares of Noble Energy from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and increased their target price for the company from $35.33 to $47.00 in a research report on Wednesday, May 25th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus increased their target price on shares of Noble Energy from $37.00 to $45.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 8th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and twenty-one have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $42.39.

The firm’s market capitalization is $14.61 billion. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $35.83 and its 200 day moving average price is $33.56.

Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 3rd. The oil and gas development company reported ($0.24) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.29) by $0.05. The business had revenue of $847 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $909.36 million. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.26 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 14.8% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts forecast that Noble Energy Inc. will post ($1.05) earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, August 22nd. Investors of record on Monday, August 8th will be given a dividend of $0.10 per share. This represents a $0.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.17%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, August 4th.

In related news, Director Thomas J. Edelman sold 12,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $35.09, for a total transaction of $421,080.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 3,032,978 shares in the company, valued at $106,427,198.02. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink.

A number of hedge funds recently modified their holdings of NBL. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management CO. LTD. boosted its stake in shares of Noble Energy by 5.8% in the fourth quarter. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management CO. LTD. now owns 56,838 shares of the oil and gas development company’s stock worth $1,872,000 after buying an additional 3,119 shares during the last quarter. Morgan Stanley boosted its stake in shares of Noble Energy by 0.8% in the fourth quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 1,116,884 shares of the oil and gas development company’s stock worth $36,778,000 after buying an additional 8,373 shares during the last quarter. Guinness Asset Management Ltd boosted its stake in shares of Noble Energy by 10.5% in the fourth quarter. Guinness Asset Management Ltd now owns 258,525 shares of the oil and gas development company’s stock worth $8,513,000 after buying an additional 24,655 shares during the last quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Noble Energy by 2.4% in the fourth quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. now owns 67,022 shares of the oil and gas development company’s stock worth $2,207,000 after buying an additional 1,597 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Marshall Wace LLP boosted its stake in shares of Noble Energy by 379.5% in the fourth quarter. Marshall Wace LLP now owns 217,324 shares of the oil and gas development company’s stock worth $7,156,000 after buying an additional 172,004 shares during the last quarter.

Noble Energy, Inc is an independent energy company engaged in crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) exploration and production. The Company’s portfolio is diversified between short-term and long-term projects, domestic and international and a balanced production mix among crude oil, natural gas and NGLs.

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