Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of WEC Energy Group Inc (NYSE:WEC) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “WEC Energy Group depends on coal to produce a major portion of its electricity. No doubt the company is working to comply with stringent environment regulation. However, installation of low-emission infrastructure at its generation systems to meet regulatory compliance will increase its cost of operations. Further, the company is subject to operational risks associated with the breakdown or failure of equipment or processes due to fuel supply or transportation disruptions, accidents and labor disputes or work stoppages by employees. However, WEC Energy Group’s investments in infrastructure projects will help it to meet increasing customer demand and improve service reliability. WEC Energy Group’s decision to acquire Integrys has been fruitful, adding nearly $620 million to the company’s top line in the second quarter.”

Separately, Argus reissued a buy rating and set a $70.00 price objective (up previously from $65.00) on shares of WEC Energy Group in a report on Tuesday, August 2nd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. WEC Energy Group presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $58.25.

Shares of WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC) opened at 62.50 on Friday. The company has a market capitalization of $19.73 billion, a PE ratio of 22.31 and a beta of 0.10. WEC Energy Group has a 52-week low of $47.98 and a 52-week high of $66.10. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $61.18 and its 200 day moving average price is $60.91.

WEC Energy Group (NYSE:WEC) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 27th. The company reported $0.57 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.56 by $0.01. WEC Energy Group had a net margin of 12.13% and a return on equity of 10.52%. The business earned $1.60 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.03 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.58 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 61.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts forecast that WEC Energy Group will post $2.93 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 1st. Stockholders of record on Friday, August 12th were given a dividend of $0.495 per share. This represents a $1.98 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.17%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, August 10th. WEC Energy Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 70.46%.

In other news, VP Susan H. Martin sold 40,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $65.05, for a total transaction of $2,602,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Robert M. Garvin sold 19,225 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.62, for a total transaction of $1,184,644.50. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 27,710 shares in the company, valued at $1,707,490.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.81% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Investment Centers of America Inc. acquired a new position in shares of WEC Energy Group during the first quarter valued at about $284,000. Sadoff Investment Management LLC raised its position in shares of WEC Energy Group by 5.4% in the first quarter. Sadoff Investment Management LLC now owns 19,137 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,150,000 after buying an additional 981 shares during the last quarter. Lodestar Investment Counsel LLC IL raised its position in shares of WEC Energy Group by 17.8% in the first quarter. Lodestar Investment Counsel LLC IL now owns 6,622 shares of the company’s stock valued at $398,000 after buying an additional 1,000 shares during the last quarter. UMB Bank N A MO raised its position in shares of WEC Energy Group by 1.0% in the first quarter. UMB Bank N A MO now owns 6,075 shares of the company’s stock valued at $365,000 after buying an additional 59 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Nicolet Bankshares Inc. raised its position in shares of WEC Energy Group by 8.6% in the first quarter. Nicolet Bankshares Inc. now owns 16,441 shares of the company’s stock valued at $988,000 after buying an additional 1,295 shares during the last quarter. 70.64% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

WEC Energy Group Company Profile

WEC Energy Group, Inc, formerly Wisconsin Energy Corporation, is a holding company, which has electric and natural gas utility operations. The Company’s segments are Wisconsin, Illinois, other states, electric transmission, We Power, and corporate and other. The Company’s Wisconsin segment includes the electric and natural gas utility, and non-utility operations of Wisconsin Electric Power Company (Wisconsin Electric), Wisconsin Gas LLC (Wisconsin Gas) and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS), including Wisconsin Electric’s electric and WPS’s electric and natural gas operations in the state of Michigan.

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