Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Wednesday morning. They currently have $132.00 price objective on the railroad operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Norfolk Southern shares have gained 29% over the last six months, outperforming the Zacks categorized Transportation-Rail industry’s increase of 26.7% over the same time period. Ushering in further good news, the company reported better-than-expected earnings and revenues in the first quarter of 2017. Both metrics also improved on a year-over-year basis. The improvement in coal revenues is very encouraging. The company's move to hike its quarterly dividend, earlier in the year, also raises optimism. We are also positive on the company's efforts to drive its bottom line by cutting costs.  We are, however, concerned about Norfolk Southern's high debt levels.”

Several other research firms have also recently issued reports on NSC. Wells Fargo & Co began coverage on Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Monday, March 13th. They set an outperform rating for the company. Loop Capital reiterated a hold rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Saturday, March 25th. Royal Bank of Canada cut Norfolk Southern Corp. from a sector perform rating to an underperform rating and set a $113.00 target price for the company. in a research report on Thursday, March 23rd. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated an outperform rating and set a $136.00 target price (up previously from $128.00) on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Monday, March 6th. Finally, Robert W. Baird reiterated a neutral rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Friday, January 20th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have assigned a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $105.78.

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) traded down 0.24% on Wednesday, reaching $116.73. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 363,088 shares. Norfolk Southern Corp. has a one year low of $78.73 and a one year high of $125.00. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $114.65 and a 200-day moving average of $111.14. The stock has a market cap of $33.83 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.08 and a beta of 1.24.

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, April 26th. The railroad operator reported $1.48 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.36 by $0.12. The business earned $2.58 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.55 billion. Norfolk Southern Corp. had a return on equity of 13.53% and a net margin of 16.87%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 6.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $1.29 earnings per share. On average, analysts predict that Norfolk Southern Corp. will post $6.33 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, June 10th. Stockholders of record on Friday, May 5th will be paid a $0.61 dividend. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.09%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, May 3rd. Norfolk Southern Corp.’s payout ratio is 43.42%.

In other news, VP Cynthia C. Earhart sold 9,447 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $119.54, for a total value of $1,129,294.38. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 6,747 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $806,536.38. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Marta R. Stewart sold 2,607 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, February 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $121.97, for a total value of $317,975.79. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 21,094 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,572,835.18. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 16,431 shares of company stock valued at $1,984,996 over the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 0.66% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of NSC. Alpha Omega Wealth Management LLC raised its stake in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 1.9% in the third quarter. Alpha Omega Wealth Management LLC now owns 27,028 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $2,623,000 after buying an additional 505 shares during the last quarter. Raab & Moskowitz Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in Norfolk Southern Corp. during the third quarter valued at about $219,000. 1ST Source Bank raised its stake in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 0.3% in the third quarter. 1ST Source Bank now owns 50,924 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $4,943,000 after buying an additional 171 shares during the last quarter. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co. Ltd. raised its stake in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 1.9% in the third quarter. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co. Ltd. now owns 70,030 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $6,797,000 after buying an additional 1,308 shares during the last quarter. Finally, DnB Asset Management AS raised its stake in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 4.7% in the third quarter. DnB Asset Management AS now owns 28,743 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $2,790,000 after buying an additional 1,300 shares during the last quarter. 70.02% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Norfolk Southern Corp.

Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest.

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