Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Xcel Energy's operation is subject to stringent environmental legislations which call for additional expenditures and can adversely impact the company's profits. Rising debt levels of Xcel Energy is a concern, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average. Despite safety measures, nuclear units run the possibility of accidents and forced shutdown, and Xcel Energy’s nuclear generation assets are not immune to such risks. Annual estimates have been going down ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. However, long-term investment plans will strengthen its operations and help it to serve its expanding customer base in a more reliable and efficient manner. The company is also benefiting from improving economic conditions in its service territories. The company is focused on expanding its renewable generation assets and lowering its carbon footprint.”

Several other research firms have also weighed in on XEL. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $49.00 target price on Xcel Energy and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Thursday, September 8th. Jefferies Group lifted their target price on Xcel Energy from $42.00 to $45.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Thursday, August 4th. Argus reiterated a buy rating and set a $48.00 target price (up from $46.00) on shares of Xcel Energy in a report on Wednesday, June 15th. Finally, SunTrust Banks Inc. reduced their target price on Xcel Energy from $41.00 to $40.00 and set a neutral rating on the stock in a report on Monday, September 12th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of C$43.75.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) opened at 42.55 on Wednesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $42.01 and its 200-day moving average price is $41.91. Xcel Energy has a one year low of $33.88 and a one year high of $45.42. The firm has a market cap of $21.61 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.18 and a beta of 0.11.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, August 3rd. The company reported $0.39 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.40 by $0.01. Xcel Energy had a return on equity of 10.10% and a net margin of 9.92%. The company had revenue of $2.50 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.52 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.39 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down .6% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts forecast that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 20th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.34 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. This represents a $1.36 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.20%. Xcel Energy’s payout ratio is presently 64.46%.

In related news, EVP Marvin E. Jr. Mcdaniel sold 11,900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of C$41.66, for a total transaction of C$495,754.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 79,404 shares in the company, valued at C$3,307,970.64. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Corporate insiders own 0.20% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. TLP Group LLC bought a new stake in Xcel Energy during the second quarter valued at about $116,000. City Holding Co. raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 1.5% in the second quarter. City Holding Co. now owns 2,776 shares of the company’s stock valued at $124,000 after buying an additional 41 shares during the last quarter. Iowa State Bank bought a new stake in Xcel Energy during the second quarter valued at about $125,000. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 0.5% in the second quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,946 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 16 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Hanson McClain Inc. raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 43.2% in the second quarter. Hanson McClain Inc. now owns 3,018 shares of the company’s stock valued at $135,000 after buying an additional 911 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.91% of the company’s stock.

Xcel Energy Company Profile

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers. Its segments are regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The regulated electric utility segment generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:XEL

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