Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc. (NYSE:PNY) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Piedmont Natural Gas Co, Inc., is an energy and services company engaged in the transportation and sale of natural gas and the sale of propane to residential, commercial and industrial customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Company is the second-largest natural gas utility in the southeast. The Company and its non-utility subsidiaries and divisions are also engaged in acquiring, marketing and arranging for the transportation and storage of natural gas for large-volume purchasers, and in the sale of propane to customers in the Company’s three-state service area. “

Shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company (NYSE:PNY) traded up 0.30% during trading on Wednesday, reaching $60.07. 315,804 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. The stock has a 50-day moving average price of $60.00 and a 200 day moving average price of $59.90. Piedmont Natural Gas Company has a 12-month low of $38.18 and a 12-month high of $60.35. The company has a market capitalization of $4.99 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.58 and a beta of 0.87.

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Piedmont Natural Gas Company (NYSE:PNY) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, September 7th. The company reported ($0.07) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.09) by $0.02. The firm earned $157.80 million during the quarter. Piedmont Natural Gas Company had a return on equity of 10.50% and a net margin of 12.20%. Piedmont Natural Gas Company’s revenue for the quarter was down .3% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts expect that Piedmont Natural Gas Company will post $1.94 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a special dividend, which will be paid on Friday, January 13th. Investors of record on Friday, December 23rd will be given a dividend of $0.34 per share. This represents a dividend yield of 2.26%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, December 21st. Piedmont Natural Gas Company’s payout ratio is 79.07%.

In related news, insider Kevin M. Ohara sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, July 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $59.78, for a total transaction of $298,900.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 68,571 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,099,174.38. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, VP Kenneth T. Valentine sold 886 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.77, for a total value of $52,956.22. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 22,481 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,343,689.37. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.40% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Synovus Financial Corp boosted its position in shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company by 0.6% in the second quarter. Synovus Financial Corp now owns 1,938 shares of the company’s stock worth $116,000 after buying an additional 12 shares during the period. SevenBridge Financial Group LLC purchased a new position in shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company during the second quarter worth approximately $123,000. LS Investment Advisors LLC boosted its position in shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company by 2.9% in the second quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 2,892 shares of the company’s stock worth $174,000 after buying an additional 82 shares during the period. HL Financial Services LLC purchased a new position in shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company during the second quarter worth approximately $201,000. Finally, Jane Street Group LLC purchased a new position in shares of Piedmont Natural Gas Company during the second quarter worth approximately $210,000. Institutional investors own 62.95% of the company’s stock.

Piedmont Natural Gas Company Company Profile

Piedmont Natural Gas Company, Inc is an energy services company. The Company’s principal business is the distribution of natural gas to residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including customers served by municipalities, which are its wholesale customers.

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