Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report sent to investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Concerned with Williams Companies’ high debt levels and regulatory setbacks suffered by its Constitution Pipeline project, we are downgrading our investment thesis from ‘Hold’ to ‘Sell’. WMB’s high leverage of over 71% restricts the financial flexibility of the firm to tap on growth opportunities. Further, Constitution Pipeline—which has been denied water permit due to environmental reasons—is not likely to become operational till 2019, diluting the WMB’s near-term earnings outlook. As it is, weaker- than-expected earnings in the last three quarters is likely to dampen investors’ confidence. The termination of the Energy Transfer deal has also been a big blow to the firm. We also need to factor the WMB’s low ROE and extensive exposure to natural gas, which translates into uncertain near-term outlook for the company. As, such we view WMB as a risky bet for the time being.”

Other analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a buy rating and set a $36.00 target price on shares of Williams Companies in a report on Monday, October 16th. Wolfe Research initiated coverage on Williams Companies in a report on Monday, September 25th. They set an outperform rating and a $34.00 target price on the stock. Credit Suisse Group initiated coverage on Williams Companies in a report on Thursday. They set an outperform rating and a $36.00 target price on the stock. Finally, Morgan Stanley dropped their target price on Williams Companies from $34.00 to $33.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a report on Friday, November 17th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating, ten have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $34.08.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) traded up $0.12 on Friday, reaching $32.58. The company had a trading volume of 5,341,800 shares, compared to its average volume of 5,830,000. Williams Companies has a fifty-two week low of $26.82 and a fifty-two week high of $32.69. The company has a market capitalization of $26,940.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 57.16, a PEG ratio of 2.83 and a beta of 1.36. The company has a quick ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 0.97 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.38.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The pipeline company reported $0.15 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.19 by ($0.04). Williams Companies had a return on equity of 3.23% and a net margin of 5.90%. The company had revenue of $1.89 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.79 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $0.20 EPS. The business’s revenue was down .7% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts anticipate that Williams Companies will post 0.64 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, December 26th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 8th were paid a $0.30 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, December 7th. This represents a $1.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.68%. Williams Companies’s dividend payout ratio is 210.53%.

In other Williams Companies news, CEO Alan S. Armstrong acquired 6,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 15th. The shares were purchased at an average price of $27.23 per share, for a total transaction of $163,380.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the chief executive officer now directly owns 345,527 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $9,408,700.21. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, VP Ted T. Timmermans sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.75, for a total value of $43,125.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 9,594 shares in the company, valued at approximately $275,827.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.50% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Fuller & Thaler Asset Management Inc. bought a new position in shares of Williams Companies during the third quarter worth approximately $105,000. Steward Partners Investment Advisory LLC bought a new position in shares of Williams Companies during the third quarter worth approximately $172,000. Sun Life Financial INC increased its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 46,384.6% during the second quarter. Sun Life Financial INC now owns 6,043 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $183,000 after purchasing an additional 6,030 shares during the period. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. increased its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 44.4% during the third quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 6,550 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $197,000 after purchasing an additional 2,013 shares during the period. Finally, Campbell & CO Investment Adviser LLC bought a new position in shares of Williams Companies during the third quarter worth approximately $202,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 84.75% of the company’s stock.

COPYRIGHT VIOLATION NOTICE: This piece of content was originally posted by Watch List News and is the sole property of of Watch List News. If you are reading this piece of content on another website, it was copied illegally and reposted in violation of US and international trademark and copyright legislation. The original version of this piece of content can be read at https://www.watchlistnews.com/williams-companies-wmb-rating-lowered-to-sell-at-zacks-investment-research/1798985.html.

About Williams Companies

The Williams Companies, Inc is an energy infrastructure company. The Company is focused on connecting North America’s hydrocarbon resource plays to markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), and olefins. As of December 31, 2016, its interstate gas pipelines, midstream and olefins production interests were held through its investment in Williams Partners L.P.

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on Williams Companies (WMB)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB)

Receive News & Ratings for Williams Companies Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Williams Companies and related companies with Analyst Ratings Network's FREE daily email newsletter.