Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of NiSource, Inc (NYSE:NI) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Friday morning. They currently have $28.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of NiSource have returned better than the broader industry in the last six months. NiSource is benefiting from continued execution of its infrastructure investment strategy.  NiSource will annually invest nearly $1.6–$1.8 billion in planned utility infrastructures from 2018 to 2020 and has identified long-term infrastructure investments worth $30 billion. Despite investing in upgrade programs, NiSource Inc. faces the risk of disruption in operation from its ageing infrastructure. Further, delays in completion of projects increase capital costs and stretch the time limit of NiSource’s expected benefit from these projects. Inconsistent weather conditions might deter NiSource’s growth.”

Several other research analysts also recently commented on the company. Barclays PLC reissued an equal weight rating and set a $26.00 target price (up previously from $25.00) on shares of NiSource in a research note on Thursday, June 1st. Zelman & Associates downgraded NiSource from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, May 30th. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services assumed coverage on NiSource in a research note on Friday, May 19th. They set a buy rating and a $27.00 target price for the company. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC reissued a hold rating and set a $23.00 target price on shares of NiSource in a research note on Friday, March 31st. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $25.60.

NiSource (NI) traded up 0.23% during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $25.81. 899,763 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. The stock has a market cap of $8.38 billion, a P/E ratio of 23.59 and a beta of 0.37. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $25.56 and a 200-day moving average price of $23.72. NiSource has a 1-year low of $21.17 and a 1-year high of $26.56.

NiSource (NYSE:NI) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, May 3rd. The utilities provider reported $0.71 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.65 by $0.06. The firm had revenue of $1.60 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.51 billion. NiSource had a return on equity of 9.18% and a net margin of 7.65%. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.62 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that NiSource will post $1.18 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, August 18th. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 31st will be paid a $0.175 dividend. This represents a $0.70 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.71%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, July 27th. NiSource’s dividend payout ratio is currently 64.22%.

In other news, CFO Donald Eugene Brown sold 6,906 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $25.51, for a total value of $176,172.06. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now owns 141,168 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,601,195.68. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, EVP Violet Sistovaris sold 38,550 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $24.25, for a total value of $934,837.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 185,186 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,490,760.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 89,981 shares of company stock valued at $2,191,779 in the last ninety days. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Private Trust Co. NA purchased a new position in NiSource during the first quarter valued at about $252,000. Bank of Montreal Can increased its position in NiSource by 5.9% in the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 453,904 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $10,799,000 after buying an additional 25,271 shares in the last quarter. Lynch & Associates IN increased its position in NiSource by 0.6% in the first quarter. Lynch & Associates IN now owns 21,069 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $501,000 after buying an additional 125 shares in the last quarter. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd increased its position in NiSource by 1.8% in the first quarter. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd now owns 107,050 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $2,546,000 after buying an additional 1,850 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Creative Planning increased its position in NiSource by 9.7% in the first quarter. Creative Planning now owns 31,059 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $739,000 after buying an additional 2,737 shares in the last quarter. 82.37% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

NiSource Company Profile

NiSource Inc is an energy holding company. The Company is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company operates through two business segments: Gas Distribution Operations and Electric Operations. The Company’s Gas Distribution Operations segment provides natural gas service and transportation for residential, commercial and industrial customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana and Massachusetts.

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