Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) Upgraded to “Buy” by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Wednesday, August 30th. They currently have $74.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on NWN. Sidoti reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $75.00 target price (up previously from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research note on Monday, June 19th. BidaskClub raised Northwest Natural Gas from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating, one has given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Northwest Natural Gas has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $66.00.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) traded down 0.15% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, reaching $66.40. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 312,529 shares. The company has a market cap of $1.90 billion, a PE ratio of 29.71 and a beta of 0.42. Northwest Natural Gas has a 12-month low of $53.50 and a 12-month high of $68.60. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $65.50 and its 200-day moving average is $61.54.

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

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In other Northwest Natural Gas news, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total transaction of $123,120.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 2,027 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $124,782.12. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, CEO David Hugo Anderson sold 8,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $66.97, for a total value of $535,760.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 71,484 shares in the company, valued at $4,787,283.48. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have sold 14,000 shares of company stock worth $924,800. Corporate insiders own 1.48% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Creative Planning raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.3% in the 2nd quarter. Creative Planning now owns 2,436 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $146,000 after buying an additional 8 shares during the period. Sharkey Howes & Javer increased its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the 1st quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,200 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $130,000 after purchasing an additional 17 shares in the last quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio increased its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% in the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 2,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $123,000 after purchasing an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. Peregrine Asset Advisers Inc. increased its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.3% in the 2nd quarter. Peregrine Asset Advisers Inc. now owns 3,525 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $211,000 after purchasing an additional 45 shares in the last quarter. Finally, State of Alaska Department of Revenue increased its holdings in Northwest Natural Gas by 1.9% in the 1st quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue now owns 3,160 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $186,000 after purchasing an additional 60 shares in the last quarter. 63.46% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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.

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