Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Saturday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $73.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of WEC Energy have outperformed the industry in the last 12 months. Thanks to ongoing improvement in economic conditions in its service territories, WEC Energy at present is serving more customers than the year-ago level. Its long-term investments in infrastructure projects will help it meet increasing customer demand and improve service reliability. The company has raised its annual dividend by 6.25%. Closure of old coal plants and timely completion of its ongoing capital projects will help WEC Energy to achieve its targeted emission reduction. In first nine months of 2017, electricity delivered to residential customers and large commercial and industrial customers declined from the year-ago period due to less favorable weather.”

WEC has been the topic of a number of other reports. KeyCorp restated a hold rating on shares of WEC Energy Group in a research note on Friday, October 20th. Guggenheim restated a buy rating and issued a $73.00 price target on shares of WEC Energy Group in a research note on Wednesday, January 3rd. Credit Suisse Group began coverage on WEC Energy Group in a research note on Thursday, December 7th. They issued a neutral rating and a $70.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Bank of America began coverage on WEC Energy Group in a research note on Tuesday, October 24th. They issued a neutral rating and a $67.00 price target on the stock. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $66.56.

WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC) traded up $0.05 during trading on Friday, reaching $63.63. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 1,266,874 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,499,076. WEC Energy Group has a one year low of $56.05 and a one year high of $70.09. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.96, a quick ratio of 0.38 and a current ratio of 0.60. The firm has a market capitalization of $20,080.10, a PE ratio of 20.93, a PEG ratio of 3.56 and a beta of 0.15.

WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The utilities provider reported $0.68 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.67 by $0.01. WEC Energy Group had a return on equity of 10.62% and a net margin of 12.79%. The company had revenue of $1.66 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.68 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.69 earnings per share. WEC Energy Group’s quarterly revenue was down 3.2% on a year-over-year basis. analysts anticipate that WEC Energy Group will post 3.09 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, March 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, February 14th will be given a dividend of $0.5525 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, February 13th. This represents a $2.21 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.47%. This is a boost from WEC Energy Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.52. WEC Energy Group’s payout ratio is 68.42%.

In other news, VP Scott J. Lauber sold 1,240 shares of WEC Energy Group stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $70.00, for a total transaction of $86,800.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Chairman Gale E. Klappa sold 52,722 shares of WEC Energy Group stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $69.40, for a total value of $3,658,906.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.97% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Cable Hill Partners LLC grew its holdings in shares of WEC Energy Group by 3,307.8% during the third quarter. Cable Hill Partners LLC now owns 1,738 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $109,000 after buying an additional 1,687 shares during the last quarter. Captrust Financial Advisors purchased a new position in shares of WEC Energy Group during the second quarter worth about $132,000. Sun Life Financial INC grew its holdings in shares of WEC Energy Group by 23,010.0% during the second quarter. Sun Life Financial INC now owns 2,311 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $142,000 after buying an additional 2,301 shares during the last quarter. Evercore Wealth Management LLC grew its holdings in shares of WEC Energy Group by 9.4% during the second quarter. Evercore Wealth Management LLC now owns 2,325 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $143,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the last quarter. Finally, BB&T Investment Services Inc. purchased a new position in shares of WEC Energy Group during the second quarter worth about $150,000. 72.59% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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WEC Energy Group Company Profile

WEC Energy Group, Inc was a diversified holding company with natural gas and electric utility operations, an approximately 60% equity ownership interest in American Transmission Company LLC, and non-utility electric operations through its We Power business, as of December 31, 2016. Its segments include Wisconsin; Illinois; Other States; Electric Transmission; We Power, and Corporate and Other.

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