Zacks Investment Research Downgrades NiSource, Inc (NI) to Hold

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of NiSource, Inc (NYSE:NI) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Year to date, shares of NiSource have gained higher than the industry it belongs to. NiSource is benefiting from continued execution of its infrastructure investment strategy.  NiSource will annually invest nearly $1.6–$1.8 billion in planned utility infrastructures from 2018 to 2020 and has identified long-term infrastructure investments worth $30 billion. Despite investing in upgrade programs, NiSource Inc. faces the risk of disruption in operation from its ageing infrastructure. NiSource’s rising debt level amid increasing interest rates is another concern.”

Several other equities analysts have also issued reports on the company. KeyCorp reiterated a buy rating and issued a $29.50 price target on shares of NiSource in a research note on Friday, September 1st. Credit Suisse Group upgraded NiSource from an underperform rating to an outperform rating and lifted their price target for the company from $25.00 to $29.00 in a research note on Monday, August 14th. Wells Fargo & Company assumed coverage on NiSource in a research note on Wednesday, August 9th. They issued an outperform rating and a $30.00 price target on the stock. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a hold rating and issued a $23.00 price target on shares of NiSource in a research note on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Barclays PLC reiterated an equal weight rating and issued a $26.00 price target (up previously from $25.00) on shares of NiSource in a research note on Thursday, June 1st. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $26.72.

Shares of NiSource (NI) opened at 25.69 on Wednesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $26.75 and its 200 day moving average price is $25.30. The company has a market cap of $8.37 billion, a PE ratio of 29.80 and a beta of 0.39. NiSource has a one year low of $21.17 and a one year high of $27.29.

NiSource (NYSE:NI) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.10. NiSource had a return on equity of 9.17% and a net margin of 5.96%. The company had revenue of $990.70 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $934.95 million. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $0.09 EPS. Equities analysts predict that NiSource will post $1.19 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, November 20th. Investors of record on Tuesday, October 31st will be given a dividend of $0.175 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, October 30th. This represents a $0.70 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.72%. NiSource’s dividend payout ratio is currently 81.40%.

In other news, Director Michael E. Jesanis acquired 2,000 shares of NiSource stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 14th. The shares were acquired at an average price of $26.44 per share, for a total transaction of $52,880.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 34,195 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $904,115.80. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Insiders own 0.35% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of NI. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in shares of NiSource by 2.4% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 33,914,394 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $860,069,000 after buying an additional 802,824 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of NiSource by 2,428.6% in the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 23,705,566 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $563,954,000 after buying an additional 22,768,084 shares during the last quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. grew its position in shares of NiSource by 32.8% in the 2nd quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 10,831,595 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $274,689,000 after buying an additional 2,675,042 shares during the last quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC grew its position in shares of NiSource by 59.8% in the 2nd quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 3,707,119 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $94,013,000 after buying an additional 1,387,190 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Pictet Asset Management Ltd. grew its position in shares of NiSource by 25.4% in the 2nd quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 3,264,081 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $85,095,000 after buying an additional 661,840 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 81.96% of the company’s stock.

About NiSource

NiSource Inc is an energy holding company. The Company is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company operates through two business segments: Gas Distribution Operations and Electric Operations. The Company’s Gas Distribution Operations segment provides natural gas service and transportation for residential, commercial and industrial customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana and Massachusetts.

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