NiSource Inc. (NYSE:NI) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “NiSource is benefiting from continued execution of its infrastructure investment strategy.  NiSource will annually invest nearly $1.6–$1.8 billion in planned utility infrastructures from 2018 to 2020 and has identified long-term infrastructure investments worth $30 billion. Shares of the company have returned better than the broader industry in the last six months. NiSource’s regulated business model provides visibility to its forward earnings. Despite investing in upgrade programs, NiSource Inc. faces the risk of disruption in operation from its ageing infrastructure. Further, delays in completion of projects increase capital costs and stretch the time limit of NiSource’s expected benefit from these projects. Inconsistent weather conditions might deter NiSource’s growth.”

NI has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services initiated coverage on NiSource in a research report on Friday, May 19th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $27.00 price objective for the company. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $23.00 target price on shares of NiSource in a report on Friday, March 31st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $25.31.

Analyst Recommendations for NiSource (NYSE:NI)

Shares of NiSource (NYSE:NI) traded up 1.15% on Thursday, hitting $25.51. 593,333 shares of the stock were exchanged. The company’s 50 day moving average is $24.24 and its 200-day moving average is $22.98. NiSource has a 52-week low of $21.17 and a 52-week high of $26.94. The stock has a market cap of $8.28 billion, a PE ratio of 23.32 and a beta of 0.29.

NiSource (NYSE:NI) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, May 3rd. The utilities provider reported $0.71 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.65 by $0.06. NiSource had a return on equity of 8.76% and a net margin of 6.87%. The company had revenue of $1.60 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.51 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.62 EPS. Analysts predict that NiSource will post $1.18 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, August 18th. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 31st will be issued a $0.175 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, July 27th. This represents a $0.70 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.78%. NiSource’s payout ratio is presently 76.09%.

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In other news, VP Joseph W. Mulpas sold 13,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, March 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $23.28, for a total value of $302,640.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 37,889 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $882,055.92. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Violet Sistovaris sold 38,550 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $24.25, for a total value of $934,837.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 185,186 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $4,490,760.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders sold 120,075 shares of company stock valued at $2,876,967. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in NI. Capital Fund Management S.A. boosted its stake in NiSource by 103.5% in the third quarter. Capital Fund Management S.A. now owns 19,357 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $467,000 after buying an additional 9,845 shares in the last quarter. LMR Partners LLP acquired a new stake in NiSource during the third quarter worth $1,694,000. Quantitative Investment Management LLC acquired a new stake in NiSource during the third quarter worth $5,333,000. Balasa Dinverno & Foltz LLC boosted its stake in NiSource by 1.7% in the third quarter. Balasa Dinverno & Foltz LLC now owns 22,886 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $552,000 after buying an additional 372 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Hanseatic Management Services Inc. boosted its stake in NiSource by 12.8% in the third quarter. Hanseatic Management Services Inc. now owns 105,320 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,539,000 after buying an additional 11,978 shares in the last quarter. 83.27% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About NiSource

NiSource Inc is an energy holding company. The Company is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company operates through two business segments: Gas Distribution Operations and Electric Operations. The Company’s Gas Distribution Operations segment provides natural gas service and transportation for residential, commercial and industrial customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana and Massachusetts.

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