Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Thursday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $71.00 price objective on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “NorthWest Natural Gas Company is headquartered in Portland, OR, and provides natural gas service to the residential, commercial and industrial customers in western Oregon and southwestern Washington. NW Natural and its subsidiaries currently own and operate Bcf of underground gas storage capacity in Oregon and California. “

NWN has been the topic of a number of other research reports. Guggenheim restated a sell rating and issued a $51.00 target price on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research report on Monday, July 23rd. ValuEngine downgraded shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 9th. Finally, TheStreet raised shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a c rating to a b rating in a research note on Tuesday, May 8th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and six have assigned a hold rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $60.00.

Shares of Northwest Natural Gas traded down $0.10, hitting $63.50, during trading hours on Thursday, according to Marketbeat. 137,856 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 120,221. The company has a current ratio of 0.61, a quick ratio of 0.65 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.90. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.83 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 28.35, a P/E/G ratio of 6.63 and a beta of 0.33. Northwest Natural Gas has a 1-year low of $51.50 and a 1-year high of $69.50.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, August 7th. The utilities provider reported ($0.01) earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.06 by ($0.07). Northwest Natural Gas had a negative net margin of 8.10% and a positive return on equity of 8.03%. The company had revenue of $124.57 million during the quarter. equities research analysts forecast that Northwest Natural Gas will post 2.21 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, August 15th. Investors of record on Tuesday, July 31st will be paid a dividend of $0.4725 per share. This represents a $1.89 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.98%. The ex-dividend date is Monday, July 30th. Northwest Natural Gas’s dividend payout ratio is presently 84.38%.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of NWN. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC increased its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 7,040.5% in the second quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC now owns 413,580 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $6,417,000 after purchasing an additional 407,788 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 6.4% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,093,462 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $261,163,000 after buying an additional 245,086 shares during the last quarter. OLD Republic International Corp grew its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 15.7% during the first quarter. OLD Republic International Corp now owns 384,000 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $22,138,000 after buying an additional 52,000 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 9.8% during the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 579,421 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $33,403,000 after buying an additional 51,721 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Parnassus Investments CA grew its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 12.7% during the second quarter. Parnassus Investments CA now owns 447,973 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $28,581,000 after buying an additional 50,473 shares during the last quarter. 68.75% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Northwest Natural Gas

Northwest Natural Gas Company engages in gas distribution and storage businesses in the United States. It operates in two segments, Local Gas Distribution and Gas Storage. The Local Gas Distribution segment engages in the purchase, sale, and delivery of natural gas and related services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and southwest Washington.

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