Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) shares reached a new 52-week high on Tuesday . The stock traded as high as $66.95 and last traded at $66.98, with a volume of 52,369 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at $66.45.

Several research analysts have recently weighed in on NWN shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 17th. Sidoti reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $75.00 price target (up previously from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, June 19th. Finally, BidaskClub cut shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Saturday, June 24th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating, two have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $66.00.

The company has a market capitalization of $1.92 billion, a P/E ratio of 29.98 and a beta of 0.42. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $64.53 and its 200-day moving average is $61.21.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $78.51 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.38% and a return on equity of 7.51%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.07 EPS. On average, equities analysts expect that Northwest Natural Gas Company will post $2.18 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, August 15th. Investors of record on Monday, July 31st were issued a $0.47 dividend. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.81%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 27th. Northwest Natural Gas’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 85.07%.

In other Northwest Natural Gas news, VP Shawn M. Filippi sold 1,200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, June 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.27, for a total transaction of $74,724.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 1,330 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $82,819.10. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, VP Grant M. Yoshihara sold 2,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.03, for a total transaction of $132,060.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 15,301 shares in the company, valued at $1,010,325.03. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 5,200 shares of company stock worth $329,904 over the last three months. 1.48% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. BlackRock Inc. lifted its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 12,672.6% during the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,607,352 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $213,194,000 after purchasing an additional 3,579,109 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.0% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 2,729,991 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $163,389,000 after purchasing an additional 26,107 shares during the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP lifted its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.3% during the second quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 861,985 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $51,590,000 after purchasing an additional 11,437 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp lifted its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 5.1% during the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 736,047 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $44,053,000 after purchasing an additional 35,852 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 2.8% during the first quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 509,781 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $30,128,000 after purchasing an additional 14,121 shares during the last quarter. 63.46% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Northwest Natural Gas

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries.