Southwest Airlines Company (NYSE:LUV) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday. The firm currently has a $67.00 price target on the airline’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective indicates a potential upside of 13.58% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Southwest Airlines have performed well, outperforming the Zacks categorized Transportation-Airline industry in the last six months. Ushering in further good news, the company hiked its quarterly dividend payout by 25%. Its board also cleared a new buyback plan worth $2 billion. Furthermore, we are impressed by Southwest Airlines' employee-friendly approach. The company has paid $586 million to its employees as part of its profit-sharing plan for 2016. The company's second-quarter view on unit revenues also raises optimism. However, high costs are likely to continue hurting bottom-line growth.”

LUV has been the topic of several other research reports. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an “overweight” rating on shares of Southwest Airlines Company in a research note on Friday, April 7th. Vetr upgraded shares of Southwest Airlines Company from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $63.80 price target on the stock in a research note on Monday, June 5th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Southwest Airlines Company from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, June 2nd. Cowen and Company boosted their price target on shares of Southwest Airlines Company from $58.00 to $62.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research note on Friday, April 28th. Finally, Imperial Capital upped their target price on shares of Southwest Airlines Company from $63.00 to $68.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research note on Friday, April 28th. Six analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $59.13.

Analyst Recommendations for Southwest Airlines Company (NYSE:LUV)

Shares of Southwest Airlines Company (NYSE:LUV) traded down 0.24% on Tuesday, reaching $58.85. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 2,530,483 shares. The company has a market cap of $35.58 billion, a PE ratio of 17.65 and a beta of 1.26. Southwest Airlines Company has a 52-week low of $35.42 and a 52-week high of $61.24. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $58.54 and a 200 day moving average of $54.23.

Southwest Airlines Company (NYSE:LUV) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, April 27th. The airline reported $0.61 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.62 by $0.01. Southwest Airlines Company had a return on equity of 26.75% and a net margin of 10.16%. The business had revenue of $4.88 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.91 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.88 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 1.2% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts predict that Southwest Airlines Company will post $3.84 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, June 28th. Investors of record on Wednesday, June 7th will be paid a dividend of $0.125 per share. The ex-dividend date is Monday, June 5th. This represents a $0.50 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.85%. This is a positive change from Southwest Airlines Company’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.10. Southwest Airlines Company’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 15.11%.

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In other Southwest Airlines Company news, EVP Jeff Lamb sold 19,800 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, May 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.00, for a total value of $1,207,800.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 92,468 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,640,548. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Chairman Gary C. Kelly sold 51,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $57.06, for a total value of $2,910,060.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 556,808 shares in the company, valued at $31,771,464.48. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders have sold 118,740 shares of company stock worth $6,923,568. Corporate insiders own 0.18% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Van ECK Associates Corp raised its stake in shares of Southwest Airlines Company by 6.1% in the fourth quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 2,348 shares of the airline’s stock worth $117,000 after buying an additional 136 shares during the last quarter. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America raised its stake in shares of Southwest Airlines Company by 0.6% in the first quarter. Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America now owns 2,374 shares of the airline’s stock worth $128,000 after buying an additional 15 shares during the last quarter. Perennial Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Southwest Airlines Company during the fourth quarter worth about $137,000. Independent Advisor Alliance acquired a new stake in shares of Southwest Airlines Company during the fourth quarter worth about $143,000. Finally, TrimTabs Asset Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Southwest Airlines Company by 88.9% in the first quarter. TrimTabs Asset Management LLC now owns 2,821 shares of the airline’s stock worth $152,000 after buying an additional 1,328 shares during the last quarter. 80.64% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Southwest Airlines Company Company Profile

Southwest Airlines Co (Southwest) operates Southwest Airlines, a passenger airline that provides scheduled air transportation in the United States and near-international markets. The Company provides point-to-point service. The Company offers ancillary service offerings, such as Southwest’s EarlyBird Check-In and transportation of pets and unaccompanied minors, in accordance with Southwest’s respective policies.

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