Atmos Energy (ATO) Downgraded to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Atmos Energy (NYSE:ATO) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Atmos Energy Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the distribution, transmission, and storage of natural gas in the United States. It operates in three segments: Regulated Distribution, Regulated Pipeline, and Nonregulated. The Regulated Distribution segment is involved in regulated natural gas distribution and related sales operations. This segment distributes natural gas to approximately 3 million residential, commercial, public authority, and industrial customers. The Regulated Pipeline segment engages in the pipeline and storage operations. This segment transports natural gas for third parties and manages five underground storage reservoirs in Texas; and provides ancillary services in the pipeline industry. The Nonregulated segment provides natural gas management, marketing, transportation, and storage services to municipalities, local gas distribution companies, and industrial customers primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. “

Separately, JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised their price objective on Atmos Energy from $91.00 to $94.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research report on Thursday, October 12th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $91.00.

Atmos Energy (NYSE:ATO) traded down $0.36 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $83.98. The company had a trading volume of 386,900 shares, compared to its average volume of 505,433. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.79, a current ratio of 0.53 and a quick ratio of 0.35. Atmos Energy has a fifty-two week low of $72.54 and a fifty-two week high of $93.56. The firm has a market cap of $9,240.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.26, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.14 and a beta of 0.40.

Atmos Energy (NYSE:ATO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 8th. The utilities provider reported $0.34 earnings per share for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.34. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.40 earnings per share. analysts anticipate that Atmos Energy will post 3.61 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, December 11th. Shareholders of record on Monday, November 27th were given a dividend of $0.485 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, November 24th. This is a positive change from Atmos Energy’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.45. This represents a $1.94 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.31%. Atmos Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 53.74%.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in ATO. BlackRock Inc. boosted its position in Atmos Energy by 2.7% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 9,636,125 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $799,314,000 after acquiring an additional 255,277 shares during the period. Cramer Rosenthal Mcglynn LLC boosted its position in Atmos Energy by 22.3% during the 2nd quarter. Cramer Rosenthal Mcglynn LLC now owns 1,128,125 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $93,578,000 after acquiring an additional 205,735 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in Atmos Energy by 1.5% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 10,274,797 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $852,294,000 after acquiring an additional 150,691 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its position in Atmos Energy by 27.9% during the 3rd quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 653,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $54,752,000 after acquiring an additional 142,352 shares during the period. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. boosted its position in Atmos Energy by 16.6% during the 3rd quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 978,216 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $82,014,000 after acquiring an additional 139,400 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 67.73% of the company’s stock.

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Atmos Energy Company Profile

Atmos Energy Corporation is a fully-regulated, natural-gas-only distributor engaged primarily in the regulated natural gas distribution and pipeline businesses, as well as other nonregulated natural gas businesses. It operates through three segments: regulated distribution segment, which includes its regulated distribution and related sales operations; regulated pipeline segment, which includes pipeline and storage operations of its Atmos Pipeline-Texas Division, and nonregulated segment, which includes its nonregulated natural gas management, nonregulated natural gas transmission, storage and other services.

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