Alon USA Energy Inc. (NYSE:ALJ) shares shot up 4.1% during mid-day trading on Thursday . The company traded as high as $7.20 and last traded at $7.12, with a volume of 1,314,770 shares. The stock had previously closed at $6.84.

A number of research firms have recently issued reports on ALJ. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Alon USA Energy from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 21st. Credit Suisse Group AG restated a “hold” rating and issued a $9.00 price target on shares of Alon USA Energy in a research report on Friday, July 29th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reduced their price target on shares of Alon USA Energy from $8.00 to $7.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, June 10th. TheStreet downgraded shares of Alon USA Energy from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Friday, May 6th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co. restated a “hold” rating on shares of Alon USA Energy in a research report on Sunday, July 10th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and five have assigned a hold rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $9.50.

The stock’s market cap is $514.60 million. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $6.69 and its 200 day moving average is $8.97.

Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 28th. The company reported ($0.21) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.19) by $0.02. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.67 earnings per share. The company had revenue of $1.01 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $883.85 million. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 22.5% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts predict that Alon USA Energy Inc. will post ($1.06) earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, September 6th. Investors of record on Friday, August 19th will be given a dividend of $0.15 per share. This represents a $0.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 8.28%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 17th.

In related news, insider David Wiessman sold 175,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $6.90, for a total transaction of $1,207,500.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 2,910,541 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $20,082,732.90. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, VP Michael Oster sold 18,500 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $7.33, for a total transaction of $135,605.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 47,553 shares in the company, valued at approximately $348,563.49. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

A number of institutional investors recently made changes to their positions in the company. Systematic Financial Management LP raised its position in shares of Alon USA Energy by 281.1% in the fourth quarter. Systematic Financial Management LP now owns 457,097 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,783,000 after buying an additional 337,157 shares during the period. Matarin Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Alon USA Energy during the fourth quarter valued at about $2,540,000. Cornerstone Capital Management Holdings LLC. raised its stake in shares of Alon USA Energy by 0.7% in the fourth quarter. Cornerstone Capital Management Holdings LLC. now owns 153,359 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,276,000 after buying an additional 1,058 shares during the period. California Public Employees Retirement System raised its stake in shares of Alon USA Energy by 20.8% in the fourth quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 138,600 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,057,000 after buying an additional 23,900 shares during the period. Finally, BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its stake in shares of Alon USA Energy by 40.1% in the fourth quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 112,816 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,674,000 after buying an additional 32,288 shares during the period.

Alon USA Energy, Inc is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products, operating primarily in the South Central, Southwestern and Western regions of the United States. The Company operates through three segments: refining and marketing, asphalt and retail. Its refineries produce petroleum products, including various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, petrochemicals, petrochemical feedstocks, asphalt and other petroleum-based products.

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