Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “NorthWestern Energy is a growing, financially sound, investor-owned energy company. It has provided reliable and affordable energy to customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. The company got its start in small communities, providing essential service that allowed them to grow and prosper. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on NWE. Barclays set a $62.00 target price on shares of NorthWestern and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Saturday, November 17th. ValuEngine raised shares of NorthWestern from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, November 13th. Credit Suisse Group upped their target price on shares of NorthWestern from $55.00 to $56.00 and gave the company an underperform rating in a report on Monday, October 1st. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co upped their target price on shares of NorthWestern from $59.00 to $61.00 and gave the company a market perform rating in a report on Monday, September 17th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $61.50.

NorthWestern stock opened at $64.28 on Wednesday. NorthWestern has a one year low of $50.01 and a one year high of $65.74. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.07, a current ratio of 0.71 and a quick ratio of 0.56. The stock has a market cap of $3.22 billion, a PE ratio of 19.48, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 8.32 and a beta of 0.12.

NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 23rd. The utilities provider reported $0.58 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.72 by ($0.14). NorthWestern had a return on equity of 9.64% and a net margin of 14.53%. The business had revenue of $279.87 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $312.21 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.74 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 9.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts expect that NorthWestern will post 3.4 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, December 31st. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 14th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 13th. This represents a $2.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.42%. NorthWestern’s payout ratio is 66.67%.

In other news, Director Jan Robert Horsfall sold 900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $60.95, for a total value of $54,855.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 4,255 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $259,342.25. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP H. Grahame Heather sold 1,900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, November 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.15, for a total transaction of $121,885.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.40% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of NWE. Honkamp Krueger Financial Services Inc. bought a new stake in shares of NorthWestern in the 3rd quarter valued at about $124,000. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC raised its holdings in NorthWestern by 344.4% in the 3rd quarter. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC now owns 3,053 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $179,000 after acquiring an additional 2,366 shares during the period. Redpoint Investment Management Pty Ltd bought a new position in NorthWestern in the 3rd quarter valued at about $210,000. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of Alberta as represented by Alberta Investment Management Corp bought a new position in NorthWestern in the 2nd quarter valued at about $235,000. Finally, Nomura Holdings Inc. bought a new position in NorthWestern in the 2nd quarter valued at about $264,000. 97.14% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

NorthWestern Company Profile

NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy, provides electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The company operates through Electric Operations and Natural Gas Operations segments. It generates, transmits, and distributes electricity; and produces, stores, transmits, and distributes natural gas, as well as owns municipal franchises to provide natural gas service in the communities.

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