BidaskClub upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Thursday.

NWN has been the topic of a number of other reports. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Northwest Natural Gas from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $68.00 price target on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, July 11th. Sidoti restated a buy rating and set a $75.00 price target (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research note on Monday, June 19th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the stock. Northwest Natural Gas has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $64.00.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) traded up 0.72% on Thursday, reaching $63.35. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 63,053 shares. The company has a 50 day moving average of $61.37 and a 200 day moving average of $59.94. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.81 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.47 and a beta of 0.42. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52 week low of $53.50 and a 52 week high of $65.53.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last released its quarterly earnings data on Monday, May 8th. The utilities provider reported $1.40 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.41 by $0.01. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.72% and a return on equity of 7.57%. The business had revenue of $297.30 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $147.56 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $1.40 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 16.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts forecast that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.17 earnings per share for the current year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, August 15th. Shareholders of record on Monday, July 31st will be paid a dividend of $0.47 per share. This represents a $1.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.99%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, July 27th. Northwest Natural Gas’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 86.24%.

In other Northwest Natural Gas news, VP Shawn M. Filippi sold 1,200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.27, for a total transaction of $74,724.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 1,330 shares in the company, valued at $82,819.10. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total value of $123,120.00. Following the transaction, 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. Insiders have sold 6,224 shares of company stock worth $384,376 over the last 90 days. 1.48% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Flinton Capital Management LLC boosted its position in 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. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its stake in 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 in the last quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC raised its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the first quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC now owns 2,278 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $135,000 after buying an additional 102 shares in the last quarter. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. bought a new stake in Northwest Natural Gas during the first quarter worth $139,000. Finally, Creative Planning raised its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.3% in the second quarter. Creative Planning now owns 2,436 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $146,000 after buying an additional 8 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 63.71% 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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