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

According to Zacks, “Shares of NiSource have returned better than the broader industry in the last six months. 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. 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 research firms also recently issued reports on NI. Barclays PLC reiterated an “equal weight” rating and set a $26.00 price objective (up from $25.00) on shares of NiSource in a research note on Thursday, June 1st. Zelman & Associates downgraded shares of NiSource from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, May 30th. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services assumed coverage on shares of NiSource in a research note on Friday, May 19th. They set a “buy” rating and a $27.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $23.00 price objective on shares of NiSource in a research note on Friday, March 31st. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $25.68.

Analyst Recommendations for NiSource (NYSE:NI)

NiSource (NYSE NI) traded down 0.78% during trading on Monday, hitting $25.57. 788,046 shares of the stock traded hands. The firm has a market cap of $8.30 billion, a PE ratio of 23.37 and a beta of 0.34. NiSource has a 12 month low of $21.17 and a 12 month high of $26.94. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $24.90 and a 200 day moving average price of $23.32.

NiSource (NYSE:NI) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, May 3rd. The utilities provider reported $0.71 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.65 by $0.06. NiSource had a net margin of 7.65% and a return on equity of 9.18%. The firm had revenue of $1.60 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.51 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.62 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts forecast that NiSource will post $1.18 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced 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 2.72%. NiSource’s payout ratio is 64.22%.

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In related news, CFO Donald Eugene Brown sold 6,906 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $25.51, for a total transaction of $176,172.06. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 141,168 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,601,195.68. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, EVP Pablo Vegas sold 7,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $25.12, for a total transaction of $180,864.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 94,885 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,383,511.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 89,981 shares of company stock valued at $2,191,779 in the last three months. 0.32% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. boosted its stake in NiSource by 50.1% in the second quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. now owns 378,212 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $10,029,000 after buying an additional 126,208 shares during the last quarter. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. purchased a new stake in NiSource during the second quarter worth approximately $23,356,000. Candriam Luxembourg S.C.A. purchased a new stake in NiSource during the second quarter worth approximately $14,518,000. Russell Frank Co boosted its stake in NiSource by 23.7% in the fourth quarter. Russell Frank Co now owns 1,271,255 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $25,200,000 after buying an additional 243,242 shares during the last quarter. Finally, First Citizens Bank & Trust Co. purchased a new stake in NiSource during the fourth quarter worth approximately $6,053,000. 82.39% of the stock is owned by 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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