Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Union Pacific have outperformed the industry and its fellow-railroad operator, CSX Corporation, in a year's time. Ushering in further good news, Union Pacific reported better-than-expected earnings per share and revenues in the second quarter of 2018. Both the metrics also improved year over year. Apart from higher freight revenues, volume growth and lower tax rates aided results. Also, the company’s efforts to reward shareholders are impressive. To this end, Union Pacific announced a dividend hike to the tune of 10% in July. Notably, this is the third dividend hike announced by the company since November 2017. However, high operating expenses and debt levels remain concerns. Additionally, adjusted operating ratio (defined as operating expenses as a percentage of revenues) declined in the second quarter mainly due to increased operating expenses. Operating expenses were up 10% in the quarter primarily due to high fuel costs.”

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on UNP. ValuEngine raised Union Pacific from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, August 2nd. TD Securities increased their price objective on Union Pacific from $150.00 to $160.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, June 1st. Scotiabank increased their price objective on Union Pacific from $148.00 to $153.00 and gave the company a sector perform rating in a research report on Friday, June 1st. Credit Suisse Group increased their price objective on Union Pacific from $160.00 to $165.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research report on Friday, June 1st. Finally, BMO Capital Markets increased their price objective on Union Pacific from $158.00 to $165.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research report on Friday, June 1st. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have given a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $147.80.

Union Pacific traded up $0.08, reaching $148.84, during trading hours on Wednesday, MarketBeat Ratings reports. 2,258,974 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 3,810,419. The stock has a market capitalization of $110.01 billion, a P/E ratio of 22.24, a PEG ratio of 1.80 and a beta of 0.83. The company has a quick ratio of 0.85, a current ratio of 1.03 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.07. Union Pacific has a 12 month low of $102.87 and a 12 month high of $151.50.

Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 19th. The railroad operator reported $1.98 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.94 by $0.04. Union Pacific had a return on equity of 23.63% and a net margin of 51.31%. The firm had revenue of $5.67 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.65 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.45 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 8.0% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts anticipate that Union Pacific will post 7.75 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 28th. Investors of record on Friday, August 31st will be paid a $0.80 dividend. This represents a $3.20 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.15%. This is a positive change from Union Pacific’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.73. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, August 30th. Union Pacific’s dividend payout ratio is presently 50.43%.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of UNP. Lenox Wealth Advisors LLC acquired a new position in shares of Union Pacific in the second quarter valued at $105,000. Landaas & Co. WI ADV acquired a new position in shares of Union Pacific in the second quarter valued at $133,000. Ballew Advisors Inc acquired a new position in shares of Union Pacific in the first quarter valued at $145,000. Exane Derivatives raised its stake in shares of Union Pacific by 85.1% in the second quarter. Exane Derivatives now owns 1,096 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $155,000 after purchasing an additional 504 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Brand Asset Management Group Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Union Pacific in the second quarter valued at $169,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 82.43% of the company’s stock.

Union Pacific Company Profile

Union Pacific Corporation, through its subsidiary, Union Pacific Railroad Company, operates railroads in the United States. It offers transportation services for agricultural products, including grains, commodities produced from grains, and food and beverage products; automotive, such as finished vehicles and automotive parts; and chemicals comprising industrial chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, petroleum and liquid petroleum gases, crude oil, and soda ash.

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