Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Xcel Energy’s long-term investment plans will strengthen its operations and help it to serve its expanding customer base in a more reliable and efficient manner. The company is also benefiting from improving economic conditions in its service territories. The utility has been consistently boosting dividends every year, thereby returning value to shareholders.The company is focused on expanding its renewable generation assets and lowering its carbon footprint. Thanks to the positive developments, the current rate of return from the company’s share was higher compared with the return from the broader industry in the last twelve months. Xcel Energy's operation is subject to stringent environmental legislations which call for additional expenditures and can adversely impact the company's profits. Rising debt levels of Xcel Energy is a concern, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on XEL. Jefferies Group increased their price objective on Xcel Energy from $42.00 to $45.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, August 4th. SunTrust Banks Inc. increased their price objective on Xcel Energy from $41.00 to $42.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a research note on Monday, September 26th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $49.00 price objective on Xcel Energy and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 8th. Finally, Argus reissued a “buy” rating and set a $48.00 price objective on shares of Xcel Energy in a research note on Monday, September 26th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $43.25.

Analyst Recommendations for Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL)

Shares of Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) opened at 39.01 on Tuesday. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $39.97 and its 200-day moving average is $41.75. The company has a market cap of $19.82 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.98 and a beta of 0.08. Xcel Energy has a 52 week low of $34.33 and a 52 week high of $45.42.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 27th. The company reported $0.90 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.87 by $0.03. The firm earned $3.04 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.33 billion. Xcel Energy had a return on equity of 10.29% and a net margin of 10.08%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 4.8% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.84 earnings per share. Equities research analysts predict that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other Xcel Energy news, insider David L. Eves sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, November 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $40.57, for a total value of $405,700.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 50,362 shares in the company, valued at $2,043,186.34. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. 0.20% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its position in Xcel Energy by 11.0% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 29,652,226 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,327,827,000 after buying an additional 2,933,264 shares during the period. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. purchased a new position in Xcel Energy during the second quarter worth about $84,273,000. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its position in Xcel Energy by 9.3% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 16,121,533 shares of the company’s stock worth $721,922,000 after buying an additional 1,367,234 shares during the period. Janus Capital Management LLC increased its position in Xcel Energy by 83.3% in the second quarter. Janus Capital Management LLC now owns 2,685,576 shares of the company’s stock worth $120,260,000 after buying an additional 1,220,562 shares during the period. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in Xcel Energy by 3.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 32,793,704 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,468,502,000 after buying an additional 1,162,685 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 69.56% of the company’s stock.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers. Its segments are regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The regulated electric utility segment generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

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