Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday. The firm presently has a $74.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price points to a potential upside of 11.61% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

Several other research analysts have also weighed in on the company. Sidoti reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $75.00 target price (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, June 19th. BidaskClub lowered Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 19th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating, one has given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. Northwest Natural Gas presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $66.00.

Northwest Natural Gas (NWN) opened at 66.30 on Wednesday. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $63.87 and its 200 day moving average price is $61.01. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52-week low of $53.50 and a 52-week high of $66.60. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.90 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 29.66 and a beta of 0.43.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $78.51 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a return on equity of 7.51% and a net margin of 8.38%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.07 earnings per share. Equities analysts predict that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.19 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, VP Shawn M. Filippi sold 1,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, June 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.27, for a total value of $74,724.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 1,330 shares in the company, valued at $82,819.10. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total value of $123,120.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 2,027 shares in the company, valued at $124,782.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 8,224 shares of company stock worth $516,436. Corporate insiders own 1.48% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Flinton Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the first quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC now owns 1,876 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $111,000 after buying an additional 84 shares during the period. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% in the second quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 2,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $123,000 after buying an additional 40 shares during the period. D.A. Davidson & CO. raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 61.0% in the second quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 2,111 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $126,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the period. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the first quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,200 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $130,000 after buying an additional 17 shares during the period. Finally, Riverhead Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 88.6% in the second quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 2,263 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $136,000 after buying an additional 1,063 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 63.32% of the company’s stock.

Northwest Natural Gas Company Profile

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries.

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