Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Xcel Energy's operation is subject to stringent environmental legislations which call for additional expenditures and can adversely impact the company's profits. Rising debt levels of Xcel Energy is a concern, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average. Despite safety measures, nuclear units run the possibility of accidents and forced shutdown, and Xcel Energy’s nuclear generation assets are not immune to such risks. Annual estimates have been going down ahead of the company’s Q3 earnings release. However, long-term investment plans will strengthen its operations and help it to serve its expanding customer base in a more reliable and efficient manner. The company is also benefiting from improving economic conditions in its service territories. The company is focused on expanding its renewable generation assets and lowering its carbon footprint.”

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on the company. SunTrust Banks Inc. lowered their price target on Xcel Energy from $42.00 to $41.00 and set a “neutral” rating on the stock in a report on Monday, August 29th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $49.00 price target on Xcel Energy and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, September 8th. Argus reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $48.00 price target (up from $46.00) on shares of Xcel Energy in a report on Wednesday, June 15th. Finally, Jefferies Group upped their price target on Xcel Energy from $42.00 to $45.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, August 4th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of C$43.75.

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Shares of Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) traded up 0.24% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $41.62. The stock had a trading volume of 1,057,098 shares. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $42.04 and its 200 day moving average is $41.91. Xcel Energy has a 12 month low of $33.78 and a 12 month high of $45.42. The company has a market cap of $21.14 billion, a PE ratio of 19.73 and a beta of 0.11.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 3rd. The company reported $0.39 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.40 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $2.50 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.52 billion. Xcel Energy had a net margin of 9.92% and a return on equity of 10.10%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down .6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.39 earnings per share. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 20th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 15th will be given a $0.34 dividend. This represents a $1.36 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.28%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 13th. Xcel Energy’s payout ratio is 64.46%.

In other Xcel Energy news, EVP Marvin E. Jr. Mcdaniel sold 11,900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of C$41.66, for a total value of C$495,754.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 79,404 shares in the company, valued at C$3,307,970.64. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. 0.20% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of XEL. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 3.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 32,793,704 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,468,502,000 after buying an additional 1,162,685 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 11.0% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 29,652,226 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,327,827,000 after buying an additional 2,933,264 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp boosted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 7.4% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 25,730,566 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,076,045,000 after buying an additional 1,768,675 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 9.3% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 16,121,533 shares of the company’s stock worth $721,922,000 after buying an additional 1,367,234 shares during the last quarter. Finally, FMR LLC boosted its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 7.0% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 13,528,693 shares of the company’s stock worth $605,815,000 after buying an additional 879,462 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.91% of the company’s stock.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers. Its segments are regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The regulated electric utility segment generates, transmits and distributes electricity in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:XEL

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