NiSource Inc. (NYSE:NI) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Friday. The brokerage currently has a $29.00 price objective on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target would suggest a potential upside of 13.59% from the company’s previous close.

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.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on the company. US Capital Advisors downgraded NiSource from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services assumed coverage on NiSource in a report on Friday, May 19th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $27.00 price target for the company. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $23.00 price target 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 given a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $25.64.

Analyst Recommendations for NiSource (NYSE:NI)

NiSource (NYSE:NI) traded down 0.12% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $25.50. The stock had a trading volume of 879,538 shares. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $24.29 and a 200-day moving average price of $23.00. The company has a market cap of $8.28 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.31 and a beta of 0.29. NiSource has a 12-month low of $21.17 and a 12-month high of $26.94.

NiSource (NYSE:NI) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, May 3rd. The utilities provider reported $0.71 earnings per share for the quarter, beating 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 business had revenue of $1.60 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.51 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.62 EPS. Equities analysts anticipate that NiSource will post $1.18 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, August 18th. Investors of record on Monday, July 31st will be given a dividend of $0.175 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, July 27th. This represents a $0.70 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.74%. NiSource’s dividend payout ratio is currently 76.09%.

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In related news, CFO Donald Eugene Brown sold 6,906 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $25.51, for a total transaction of $176,172.06. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief financial officer now owns 141,168 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,601,195.68. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, VP Joseph W. Mulpas sold 13,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, March 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $23.28, for a total value of $302,640.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 37,889 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $882,055.92. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 126,981 shares of company stock valued at $3,053,139 in the last 90 days. Insiders own 0.32% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Achmea Investment Management B.V. acquired a new position in shares of NiSource during the first quarter worth about $1,606,000. Bank of Nova Scotia acquired a new position in shares of NiSource during the first quarter worth about $1,584,000. Driehaus Capital Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of NiSource during the first quarter worth about $5,895,000. HighTower Advisors LLC raised its position in shares of NiSource by 0.5% in the first quarter. HighTower Advisors LLC now owns 27,685 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $661,000 after buying an additional 129 shares during the period. Finally, Credit Suisse AG raised its position in shares of NiSource by 7.5% in the first quarter. Credit Suisse AG now owns 688,684 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $16,383,000 after buying an additional 47,874 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 83.27% of the company’s stock.

NiSource Company Profile

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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