Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Northwest Natural Holding Company builds and maintains natural gas distribution systems, as well as invests in natural gas pipeline projects through its subsidiaries. It serves residential, commercial and industrial customers primarily in the United States, Canada and Service Territory. Northwest Natural Holding Company, formerly known as NW Natural Gas Company, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. “

NWN has been the topic of several other reports. Guggenheim restated a sell rating and issued a $51.00 target price on shares of Northwest Natural in a research note on Monday, July 23rd. ValuEngine upgraded Northwest Natural from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, September 13th. Finally, TheStreet lowered Northwest Natural from a b rating to a c+ rating in a research note on Tuesday, August 7th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $61.60.

Shares of NWN traded up $0.07 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $68.53. The stock had a trading volume of 101,540 shares, compared to its average volume of 135,774. The firm has a market cap of $1.96 billion, a PE ratio of 30.59, a PEG ratio of 7.03 and a beta of 0.26. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.98, a current ratio of 0.57 and a quick ratio of 0.46. Northwest Natural has a 52 week low of $51.50 and a 52 week high of $71.81.

Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, November 6th. The utilities provider reported ($0.41) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of ($0.37) by ($0.04). The firm had revenue of $91.20 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $98.42 million. Northwest Natural had a negative net margin of 8.52% and a positive return on equity of 7.97%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned ($0.30) earnings per share. Sell-side analysts anticipate that Northwest Natural will post 2.23 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, November 15th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, October 31st will be given a $0.475 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, October 30th. This is a boost from Northwest Natural’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.90 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.77%. Northwest Natural’s payout ratio is 84.82%.

In other news, VP Jon G. Huddleston sold 3,500 shares of Northwest Natural stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.60, for a total value of $222,600.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 2,870 shares in the company, valued at $182,532. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, SVP Mardilyn Saathoff sold 2,000 shares of Northwest Natural stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.91, for a total value of $129,820.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders sold 12,500 shares of company stock valued at $807,980. 1.19% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in NWN. LPL Financial LLC purchased a new position in shares of Northwest Natural in the first quarter valued at $382,000. Guggenheim Capital LLC purchased a new position in Northwest Natural during the first quarter worth about $324,000. Principal Financial Group Inc. grew its position in Northwest Natural by 3.2% during the first quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 235,679 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $13,587,000 after buying an additional 7,405 shares in the last quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC grew its position in Northwest Natural by 7,040.5% during the second quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC now owns 413,580 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $6,417,000 after buying an additional 407,788 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC purchased a new position in Northwest Natural during the second quarter worth about $207,000. Institutional investors own 67.97% of the company’s stock.

About Northwest Natural

Northwest Natural Holding Company, through its subsidiary, NW Natural Gas Company, operates as a regulated natural gas distribution company. The company serves approximately 740,000 natural gas customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington through 14,000 miles of pipeline systems in the United States.

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Analyst Recommendations for Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN)

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