Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Badger Meter Inc. (NYSE:BMI) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Wednesday morning. The brokerage currently has $37.00 target price on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Badger Meter is making progress on the expansion of its sales channels, which will benefit Flow instrumentation sales in the coming quarters. This will help in balancing stronger municipal sales with weaker flow instrumentation sales. Badger Meter expects robust results over the balance of 2016. The company will also benefit from continuous investment in new products and product enhancements and momentum in residential and commercial municipal water products. Further, the recent increase in dividend and stock split will also drive growth.”

Badger Meter (NYSE:BMI) opened at 33.88 on Wednesday. The firm has a market cap of $985.81 million, a PE ratio of 31.37 and a beta of 0.80. Badger Meter has a 12-month low of $26.40 and a 12-month high of $39.36. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $33.76 and a 200 day moving average price of $34.99.

Badger Meter (NYSE:BMI) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.65 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.65. Badger Meter had a return on equity of 13.19% and a net margin of 7.81%. The firm had revenue of $102.80 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $104.54 million. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.55 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.0% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts forecast that Badger Meter will post $1.19 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 15th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, August 31st were paid a $0.23 dividend. This is an increase from Badger Meter’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. The ex-dividend date was Monday, August 29th. This represents a $0.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.75%. Badger Meter’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 42.59%.

In related news, VP William R. A. Bergum sold 2,250 shares of Badger Meter stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.09, for a total value of $146,452.50. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 4,432 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $288,478.88. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, VP Fred J. Begale sold 1,720 shares of Badger Meter stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.00, for a total value of $113,520.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 2,336 shares in the company, valued at approximately $154,176. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 4.60% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in BMI. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. boosted its position in Badger Meter by 2.2% in the first quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 383,549 shares of the company’s stock worth $25,510,000 after buying an additional 8,406 shares during the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc boosted its position in Badger Meter by 23.6% in the first quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 3,538 shares of the company’s stock worth $235,000 after buying an additional 676 shares during the last quarter. Wellington Management Group LLP acquired a new position in Badger Meter during the first quarter worth approximately $974,000. Prudential Financial Inc. boosted its position in Badger Meter by 3.3% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 34,997 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,328,000 after buying an additional 1,120 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Aperio Group LLC boosted its position in Badger Meter by 1.7% in the first quarter. Aperio Group LLC now owns 18,463 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,228,000 after buying an additional 300 shares during the last quarter. 79.64% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Badger Meter

Badger Meter, Inc is engaged in flow measurement, control and communication solutions, serving water utilities, municipalities, and commercial and industrial customers across the world. The Company’s products, measure water, oil, chemicals and other fluids, provide and communicate timely measurement data.

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