Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Atmos Energy (NYSE:ATO) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Friday morning. They currently have $94.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Atmos Energy Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the distribution, transmission, and storage of natural gas in the United States. It operates in three segments: Regulated Distribution, Regulated Pipeline, and Nonregulated. The Regulated Distribution segment is involved in regulated natural gas distribution and related sales operations. This segment distributes natural gas to approximately 3 million residential, commercial, public authority, and industrial customers. The Regulated Pipeline segment engages in the pipeline and storage operations. This segment transports natural gas for third parties and manages five underground storage reservoirs in Texas; and provides ancillary services in the pipeline industry. The Nonregulated segment provides natural gas management, marketing, transportation, and storage services to municipalities, local gas distribution companies, and industrial customers primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. “

Separately, JPMorgan Chase & Co. upped their target price on shares of Atmos Energy from $91.00 to $94.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Thursday, October 12th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Atmos Energy presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $89.20.

Atmos Energy (ATO) traded down $0.79 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $83.19. 377,800 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 473,525. The company has a market cap of $9,230.61, a P/E ratio of 22.24, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.09 and a beta of 0.40. Atmos Energy has a one year low of $72.54 and a one year high of $93.56. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.79, a quick ratio of 0.35 and a current ratio of 0.53.

Atmos Energy (NYSE:ATO) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, November 8th. The utilities provider reported $0.34 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.34. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.40 earnings per share. research analysts forecast that Atmos Energy will post 3.61 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, December 11th. Investors of record on Monday, November 27th were paid a $0.485 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Friday, November 24th. This represents a $1.94 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.33%. This is a boost from Atmos Energy’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.45. Atmos Energy’s payout ratio is presently 51.87%.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Janus Henderson Group PLC increased its stake in Atmos Energy by 298.1% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 38,674 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,208,000 after acquiring an additional 28,960 shares during the period. Teachers Retirement System of The State of Kentucky grew its stake in Atmos Energy by 7.1% during the third quarter. Teachers Retirement System of The State of Kentucky now owns 22,760 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,908,000 after buying an additional 1,500 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN grew its stake in Atmos Energy by 14.6% during the third quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 386,096 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $32,370,000 after buying an additional 49,231 shares during the last quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC grew its stake in Atmos Energy by 2.1% during the second quarter. Mutual of America Capital Management LLC now owns 85,117 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $7,060,000 after buying an additional 1,772 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Swiss National Bank grew its stake in Atmos Energy by 4.2% during the second quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 383,800 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $31,836,000 after buying an additional 15,400 shares during the last quarter. 67.70% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy Corporation is a fully-regulated, natural-gas-only distributor engaged primarily in the regulated natural gas distribution and pipeline businesses, as well as other nonregulated natural gas businesses. It operates through three segments: regulated distribution segment, which includes its regulated distribution and related sales operations; regulated pipeline segment, which includes pipeline and storage operations of its Atmos Pipeline-Texas Division, and nonregulated segment, which includes its nonregulated natural gas management, nonregulated natural gas transmission, storage and other services.

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