Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “strong-buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Encana has one of the largest natural gas resource portfolios in North America, providing a diverse and high quality inventory of reserves. We are impressed by the company’s cost reduction initiatives. Additionally, the steps undertaken by Encana to divest high-cost low-profit gas assets will increase its financial flexibility and fund the transition to a more diversified oil and gas firm. The sale of its Gordondale shale properties in Alberta is a case in point, which not only strengthened its balance sheet but also reduced its future spending commitments. However, ECA’s profit is influenced by commodity price fluctuations. With both oil and gas prices still remaining on the lower side, Encana's revenues, earnings and cash flows will be affected. Also, the recent equity offering – despite helping ECA to pay down debt and boost drilling – has significantly diluted existing shareholders' equity.”

Several other equities analysts have also weighed in on ECA. Scotia Howard Weill lowered Encana Corp. from a “sector perform” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Scotiabank lowered Encana Corp. from a “sector perform” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating and issued a $13.00 price target on shares of Encana Corp. in a research note on Tuesday. RBC Capital Markets restated a “sector perform” rating and issued a $10.00 price target (up previously from $9.00) on shares of Encana Corp. in a research note on Monday, September 12th. Finally, Nomura lifted their price objective on Encana Corp. from $12.00 to $15.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, September 12th. Five equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $9.37.

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Shares of Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) traded up 1.262% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $9.225. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 23,120,178 shares. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $9.52 and its 200 day moving average price is $7.76. The firm’s market cap is $7.84 billion. Encana Corp. has a one year low of $3.00 and a one year high of $10.75.

Encana Corp. (NYSE:ECA) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.09) by $0.19. Encana Corp. had a positive return on equity of 0.79% and a negative net margin of 81.73%. During the same quarter last year, the company posted ($0.20) earnings per share. Analysts predict that Encana Corp. will post ($0.10) earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 30th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a $0.015 dividend. This represents a $0.06 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.66%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, September 13th. Encana Corp.’s payout ratio is -1.79%.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BB&T Securities LLC raised its stake in shares of Encana Corp. by 22.6% in the first quarter. BB&T Securities LLC now owns 17,754 shares of the company’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 3,270 shares during the last quarter. Carnick & Kubik Group LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $154,000. Stevens Capital Management LP purchased a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $165,000. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P raised its stake in shares of Encana Corp. by 39.6% in the first quarter. Loomis Sayles & Co. L P now owns 21,274 shares of the company’s stock worth $130,000 after buying an additional 6,036 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Advisor Group Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Encana Corp. during the second quarter worth about $182,000. 64.68% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Encana Corp. Company Profile

Encana Corp is a Canada-based energy producer, which is engaged in the business of exploration, development, production and marketing of natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs). The Company’s operations also include the marketing of natural gas, oil and NGLs. All of its reserves and production are located in North America.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:ECA

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