Piedmont Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:PNY) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note 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 (NYSE:PNY) opened at 59.89 on Wednesday. The firm has a market cap of $4.98 billion, a P/E ratio of 34.48 and a beta of 0.87. Piedmont Natural Gas has a 12-month low of $38.18 and a 12-month high of $60.35. The company has a 50-day moving average of $59.99 and a 200 day moving average of $59.89.

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Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, September 7th. The company reported ($0.07) EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of ($0.09) by $0.02. The business had revenue of $157.80 million for the quarter. Piedmont Natural Gas had a net margin of 12.20% and a return on equity of 10.50%. The company’s revenue was down .3% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Piedmont Natural Gas will post $1.94 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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

In other news, VP Kenneth T. Valentine sold 886 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, July 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.77, for a total value of $52,956.22. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 22,481 shares in the company, valued at $1,343,689.37. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, insider Kevin M. Ohara sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $59.78, for a total transaction of $298,900.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 68,571 shares in the company, valued at $4,099,174.38. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.40% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Synovus Financial Corp raised its stake in Piedmont Natural Gas by 0.6% in the second quarter. Synovus Financial Corp now owns 1,938 shares of the company’s stock valued at $116,000 after buying an additional 12 shares in the last quarter. SevenBridge Financial Group LLC acquired a new stake in Piedmont Natural Gas during the second quarter valued at approximately $123,000. LS Investment Advisors LLC raised its stake in Piedmont Natural Gas by 2.9% in the second quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 2,892 shares of the company’s stock valued at $174,000 after buying an additional 82 shares in the last quarter. HL Financial Services LLC acquired a new stake in Piedmont Natural Gas during the second quarter valued at approximately $201,000. Finally, Jane Street Group LLC acquired a new stake in Piedmont Natural Gas during the second quarter valued at approximately $210,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.95% of the company’s stock.

Piedmont Natural Gas 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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