Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Avista (NYSE:AVA) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Monday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Avista Corporation is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is its operating division that provides electric service customers and natural gas customers. Its service territory covers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon. Alaska Energy and Resources Company is an Avista subsidiary that provides retail electric service in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, through its subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company. “

A number of other research analysts have also recently commented on AVA. ValuEngine upgraded Avista from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 2nd. TheStreet upgraded Avista from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a research note on Monday, June 10th. Bank of America initiated coverage on Avista in a research note on Thursday, May 9th. They issued an underperform rating and a $43.00 price target for the company. Finally, KeyCorp reiterated an underweight rating and issued a $35.00 price target on shares of Avista in a research note on Wednesday, June 5th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Avista currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $41.60.

Shares of AVA opened at $45.84 on Monday. Avista has a 52 week low of $39.75 and a 52 week high of $52.70. The stock has a market capitalization of $3.06 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.73, a PEG ratio of 7.16 and a beta of 0.41. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.39 and a current ratio of 0.52. The stock has a fifty day moving average of $45.43 and a 200-day moving average of $42.79.

Avista (NYSE:AVA) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 7th. The utilities provider reported $0.38 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.35 by $0.03. Avista had a return on equity of 6.35% and a net margin of 14.43%. The company had revenue of $300.81 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $315.08 million. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.39 EPS. As a group, equities analysts forecast that Avista will post 1.95 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 13th. Investors of record on Thursday, August 22nd will be issued a $0.387 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 21st. This represents a $1.55 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.38%. Avista’s payout ratio is 73.46%.

In related news, Chairman Scott L. Morris sold 23,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, June 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $44.33, for a total value of $1,019,590.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 198,865 shares in the company, valued at $8,815,685.45. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, VP Kevin J. Christie sold 780 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, May 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.78, for a total value of $32,588.40. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 9,229 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $385,587.62. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 36,236 shares of company stock valued at $1,596,374 over the last 90 days. 1.10% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in Avista by 8.1% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 12,524,697 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $508,754,000 after purchasing an additional 938,978 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its holdings in Avista by 1.1% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 7,393,145 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $329,734,000 after purchasing an additional 77,203 shares during the period. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its holdings in Avista by 35.9% in the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,790,430 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $79,853,000 after purchasing an additional 472,588 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its holdings in Avista by 6.4% in the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 1,788,937 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $79,786,000 after purchasing an additional 107,296 shares during the period. Finally, Acadian Asset Management LLC increased its holdings in Avista by 23.9% in the second quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC now owns 1,247,830 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $55,650,000 after purchasing an additional 241,109 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 79.25% of the company’s stock.

About Avista

Avista Corporation operates as an electric and natural gas utility company. It operates through two segments, Avista Utilities and AEL&P. The Avista Utilities segment provides electric distribution and transmission, and natural gas distribution services in parts of eastern Washington and northern Idaho; and natural gas distribution services in parts of northeastern and southwestern Oregon, as well as generates electricity in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana.

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