Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on NWN. BidaskClub cut Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. Sidoti reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $75.00 target price (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Monday, June 19th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating, one has given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $65.67.

Northwest Natural Gas (NWN) opened at 64.30 on Friday. The firm has a market cap of $1.84 billion, a PE ratio of 28.77 and a beta of 0.43. Northwest Natural Gas has a 12-month low of $53.50 and a 12-month high of $66.00. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $62.04 and its 200-day moving average price is $60.35.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $78.51 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a return on equity of 7.51% and a net margin of 8.38%. The business’s revenue was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.07 EPS. Equities research analysts anticipate that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.19 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of Northwest Natural Gas stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total transaction of $123,120.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 2,027 shares in the company, valued at $124,782.12. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, VP Shawn M. Filippi sold 1,200 shares of Northwest Natural Gas stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, June 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.27, for a total transaction of $74,724.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 1,330 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $82,819.10. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 6,224 shares of company stock valued at $384,376 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 1.48% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Flinton Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of 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 last quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 61.0% in the second quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 2,111 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $126,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the last quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its position in shares of 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 during the last quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC raised its position in shares of 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 during the last quarter. Finally, Riverhead Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 88.6% in the second quarter. Riverhead Capital Management LLC now owns 2,263 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $136,000 after buying an additional 1,063 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 63.61% 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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