Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a research note published on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has $11.00 price target on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Buoyed by a slew of positive developments, we are upgrading our investment thesis on Encana to a 'Strong Buy'. The Canadian energy behemoth – which posted a surprise operating profit in the June quarter on the back of reduced drilling costs and solid execution – holds one of the largest natural gas resource portfolios in North America. As such, the company is set to benefit from the commodity's recent price strength. Additionally, the steps undertaken by Encana to divest high-cost low-profit gas assets will increase its financial flexibility and fund the transition to a more diversified oil and gas firm. Finally, the recent equity offering will help it lower debt levels, apart from supporting more number of rigs in the Permian basin, where Encana is a top tier operator. Therefore, notwithstanding the stock's impressive run in the past 6 months, we believe that ECA offers more upside for investors going ahead.”

Several other research analysts have also weighed in on ECA. Barclays PLC lowered their price objective on Encana Corp. from $8.00 to $6.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a research report on Wednesday, June 1st. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Encana Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, June 22nd. RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed a sector perform rating and issued a $10.00 target price (up from $9.00) on shares of Encana Corp. in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $12.00 target price on shares of Encana Corp. in a research report on Thursday, June 23rd. Finally, Nomura boosted their target price on Encana Corp. from $12.00 to $15.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Encana Corp. currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $9.71.

Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) opened at 9.50 on Tuesday. Encana Corp. has a 52-week low of $3.00 and a 52-week high of $10.75. The firm’s market capitalization is $8.07 billion. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $9.60 and its 200 day moving average price is $7.79.

Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of ($0.09) by $0.19. Encana Corp. had a positive return on equity of 0.79% and a negative net margin of 81.73%. During the same period last year, the firm posted ($0.20) earnings per share. On average, analysts predict that Encana Corp. will post ($0.10) EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 30th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th will be paid a $0.015 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $0.06 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.63%. Encana Corp.’s payout ratio is -1.79%.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. BlackRock Group LTD boosted its stake in shares of Encana Corp. by 7,634.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 13,148,536 shares of the company’s stock worth $80,074,000 after buying an additional 12,978,536 shares during the last quarter. Point72 Asset Management L.P. acquired a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $54,865,000. Norges Bank acquired a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the fourth quarter worth about $33,438,000. Key Group Holdings Cayman LTD. acquired a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $39,161,000. Finally, Mackenzie Financial Corp acquired a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $23,962,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 64.68% of the company’s stock.

About Encana Corp.

Encana Corp is a Canada-based energy producer, which is engaged in the business of exploration, development, production and marketing of natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs). The Company’s operations also include the marketing of natural gas, oil and NGLs. All of its reserves and production are located in North America.

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