Shares of Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) gapped up before the market opened on Thursday . The stock had previously closed at $71.40, but opened at $71.46. Southwest Gas Corp. shares last traded at $72.69, with a volume of 70,740 shares.

SWX has been the topic of a number of research analyst reports. Jefferies Group cut Southwest Gas Corp. from a “hold” rating to an “underperform” rating and set a $64.00 target price on the stock. in a research report on Monday, July 25th. Citigroup Inc. lifted their target price on Southwest Gas Corp. from $62.00 to $79.00 and gave the stock a “neutral” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 27th. 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 report on Thursday, April 28th. Finally, Argus cut Southwest Gas Corp. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, May 31st. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and three have given a hold rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $71.25.

The company has a market cap of $3.46 billion and a PE ratio of 23.81. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $76.27 and its 200 day moving average is $68.68.

Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) last released its earnings results on Monday, August 8th. The company reported $0.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.18 by $0.01. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.13 EPS. The company earned $547.70 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $559.21 million. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 1.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts expect that Southwest Gas Corp. will post $3.16 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other Southwest Gas Corp. news, CEO John P. Hester sold 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.03, for a total value of $150,060.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 52,855 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,965,710.65. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Eric Debonis sold 600 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $72.99, for a total transaction of $43,794.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 19,694 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,437,465.06. The disclosure for this sale can be found here.

Several hedge funds and institutional investors have added to or reduced their stakes in SWX. Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its position in Southwest Gas Corp. by 29.3% in the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 643,543 shares of the company’s stock worth $35,498,000 after buying an additional 145,761 shares in the last quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. increased its position in Southwest Gas Corp. by 6.1% in the fourth quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 310,258 shares of the company’s stock worth $17,114,000 after buying an additional 17,799 shares in the last quarter. Piermont Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Southwest Gas Corp. by 18.4% in the fourth quarter. Piermont Capital Management Inc. now owns 60,235 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,323,000 after buying an additional 9,370 shares in the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund increased its position in 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. Finally, Bank of Montreal Can increased its position in 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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