Northwest Natural (NWN) Downgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Northwest Natural Holding Company builds and maintains natural gas distribution systems, as well as invests in natural gas pipeline projects through its subsidiaries. It serves residential, commercial and industrial customers primarily in the United States, Canada and Service Territory. Northwest Natural Holding Company, formerly known as NW Natural Gas Company, is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. “

NWN has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Guggenheim reissued a sell rating and issued a $51.00 price objective on shares of Northwest Natural in a research note on Monday, July 23rd. ValuEngine raised Northwest Natural from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, September 13th. Finally, TheStreet cut Northwest Natural from a b rating to a c+ rating in a research note on Tuesday, August 7th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Northwest Natural has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $61.60.

NYSE NWN traded up $0.07 during trading hours on Friday, hitting $68.53. 101,540 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 135,774. Northwest Natural has a 1-year low of $51.50 and a 1-year high of $71.81. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.96 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.59, a P/E/G ratio of 7.03 and a beta of 0.26. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.98, a current ratio of 0.57 and a quick ratio of 0.46.

Northwest Natural (NYSE:NWN) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, November 6th. The utilities provider reported ($0.41) EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of ($0.37) by ($0.04). Northwest Natural had a positive return on equity of 7.97% and a negative net margin of 8.52%. The business had revenue of $91.20 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $98.42 million. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned ($0.30) EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.4% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts expect that Northwest Natural will post 2.23 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, November 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, October 31st will be paid a $0.475 dividend. This represents a $1.90 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.77%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, October 30th. This is a boost from Northwest Natural’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. Northwest Natural’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 84.82%.

In related news, CEO David A. Weber sold 7,000 shares of Northwest Natural stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.08, for a total transaction of $455,560.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 2,296 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $149,423.68. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Mardilyn Saathoff sold 2,000 shares of Northwest Natural stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.91, for a total value of $129,820.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 12,500 shares of company stock valued at $807,980 in the last three months. Insiders own 1.19% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in NWN. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC boosted its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 7,040.5% during the second quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC now owns 413,580 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $6,417,000 after buying an additional 407,788 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. boosted its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 6.4% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,093,462 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $261,163,000 after buying an additional 245,086 shares during the last quarter. WINTON GROUP Ltd purchased a new position in shares of Northwest Natural during the third quarter valued at approximately $7,071,000. Confluence Investment Management LLC purchased a new position in shares of Northwest Natural during the third quarter valued at approximately $5,991,000. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC boosted its position in shares of Northwest Natural by 12.6% during the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 637,600 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $40,679,000 after buying an additional 71,300 shares during the last quarter. 67.97% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Northwest Natural Company Profile

Northwest Natural Holding Company, through its subsidiary, NW Natural Gas Company, operates as a regulated natural gas distribution company. The company serves approximately 740,000 natural gas customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington through 14,000 miles of pipeline systems in the United States.

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