Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Xcel Energy have gained more than the industry in the last 12 months. Xcel Energy is poised to gain from its long-term investment plans, focus on renewable generation and improving economic conditions in its service territories. The constructive regulatory orders will also help the company.  However, the rising debt level of Xcel Energy is a concern, in an interest hike environment, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average. Lower-than-expected performance of its subsidiaries and cost of adhering stringent environmental regulation could hurt its profitability.”

Several other brokerages have also recently issued reports on XEL. Morgan Stanley boosted their price target on shares of Xcel Energy from $46.00 to $48.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research report on Friday, September 8th. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a hold rating and set a $50.00 price target on shares of Xcel Energy in a research report on Thursday, August 31st. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Xcel Energy from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, August 23rd. J P Morgan Chase & Co boosted their price target on shares of Xcel Energy from $51.00 to $53.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research report on Thursday. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a hold rating and set a $48.00 price target on shares of Xcel Energy in a research report on Tuesday, October 10th. Eight investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, two have assigned a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $48.67.

Shares of Xcel Energy (NYSE XEL) opened at 48.61 on Friday. Xcel Energy has a 12-month low of $38.00 and a 12-month high of $50.56. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $48.54 and a 200-day moving average price of $47.03. The firm has a market capitalization of $24.68 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.46 and a beta of 0.19.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 27th. The utilities provider reported $0.45 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.43 by $0.02. Xcel Energy had a net margin of 10.08% and a return on equity of 10.42%. The firm had revenue of $2.64 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.63 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.39 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.8% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts predict that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 20th. Investors of record on Friday, September 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.36 per share. This represents a $1.44 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.96%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 14th. Xcel Energy’s payout ratio is currently 63.44%.

In other news, EVP Kent T. Larson sold 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $47.25, for a total value of $472,500.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 80,221 shares in the company, valued at $3,790,442.25. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director Daniel Yohannes bought 1,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 5th. The stock was purchased at an average price of $49.53 per share, for a total transaction of $49,530.00. Following the purchase, the director now owns 1,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $49,530. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders own 0.22% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of XEL. Parallel Advisors LLC lifted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 1.6% in the second quarter. Parallel Advisors LLC now owns 2,227 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $105,000 after buying an additional 36 shares in the last quarter. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 14.5% in the second quarter. Carroll Financial Associates Inc. now owns 2,365 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 300 shares in the last quarter. Sandy Spring Bank lifted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 24.8% in the second quarter. Sandy Spring Bank now owns 2,401 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $110,000 after buying an additional 477 shares in the last quarter. Dupont Capital Management Corp bought a new position in shares of Xcel Energy in the second quarter worth approximately $135,000. Finally, Sharkey Howes & Javer lifted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 0.5% in the second quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 3,010 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $138,000 after buying an additional 16 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 72.45% of the company’s stock.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include the activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers in eight states. The Company’s segments include regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The Company’s utility subsidiaries include NSP-Minnesota, NSP-Wisconsin, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) and Southwestern Public Service Co (SPS), which serve customers in portions of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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