Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE:NSC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Norfolk Southern shares have underperformed its industry so far this year and delivered mixed results in the second quarter of 2017. In fact, the company reported better-than-expected earnings per share while lagging on the revenues front. Both metrics improved on a year-over-year basis. The company is looking to cut costs in order to drive the bottom line. It registered a record operating ratio of 66.3% in the quarter. The metric improved 230 basis points from the year-ago quarter. Norfolk Southern aims to achieve an operating ratio of below 65% by 2020 or even earlier. Automotive volume decreased in the quarter, which is anticipated to deteriorate further in the second half of the year due to sluggish vehicle production in the US. Notably, though the coal scenario is projected to improve further in the second half of 2017, the pace will be sluggish primarily due to a slowdown in export of the commodity.”

Other research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. UBS AG reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $138.00 price target (up from $135.00) on shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation in a research report on Friday, April 28th. Stephens reaffirmed an overweight rating and set a $140.00 price target (down from $147.00) on shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Credit Suisse Group reaffirmed an outperform rating and set a $133.00 price target (down from $139.00) on shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. BidaskClub cut shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $124.00 price target (up from $122.00) on shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have issued a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $111.35.

Shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE NSC) traded up 0.209% during trading on Friday, hitting $112.815. 678,429 shares of the stock traded hands. Norfolk Souther Corporation has a 52-week low of $86.88 and a 52-week high of $125.31. The firm has a market cap of $32.51 billion, a PE ratio of 18.332 and a beta of 1.35. The company’s 50 day moving average is $119.72 and its 200 day moving average is $118.07.

Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE:NSC) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, July 26th. The railroad operator reported $1.71 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.65 by $0.06. Norfolk Souther Corporation had a net margin of 17.66% and a return on equity of 14.45%. The business had revenue of $2.64 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.64 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.36 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 7.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts predict that Norfolk Souther Corporation will post $6.33 EPS for the current year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, September 11th. Stockholders of record on Monday, August 7th will be issued a dividend of $0.61 per share. This represents a $2.44 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.17%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, August 3rd. Norfolk Souther Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 39.61%.

In other news, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 1,427 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, May 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $116.92, for a total transaction of $166,844.84. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 5,102 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $596,525.84. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 802 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, May 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $116.54, for a total transaction of $93,465.08. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 4,300 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $501,122. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.36% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. First Manhattan Co. increased its position in shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation by 16.6% in the first quarter. First Manhattan Co. now owns 12,984 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $1,260,000 after buying an additional 1,848 shares during the period. Pillar Pacific Capital Management LLC increased its position in shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation by 0.9% in the first quarter. Pillar Pacific Capital Management LLC now owns 58,450 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $6,544,000 after buying an additional 520 shares during the period. Lee Danner & Bass Inc. increased its position in shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation by 0.3% in the first quarter. Lee Danner & Bass Inc. now owns 2,292 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $257,000 after buying an additional 7 shares during the period. Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA increased its position in shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation by 4.7% in the first quarter. Berkshire Asset Management LLC PA now owns 91,187 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $10,210,000 after buying an additional 4,071 shares during the period. Finally, Kentucky Retirement Systems purchased a new position in shares of Norfolk Souther Corporation during the fourth quarter valued at about $2,289,000. 70.16% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Norfolk Souther Corporation

Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest.

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Analyst Recommendations for Norfolk Souther Corporation (NYSE:NSC)

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