Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday. The firm presently has a $53.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 11.46% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Xcel Energy have returned better than the broader industry in the last twelve months. Despite the adverse impact of warmer winter, the company was able to match the year-ago earnings due to higher electric and natural gas margins and a lower effective tax rate. Xcel Energy’s long-term investment plans will strengthen its operations and the company is also benefiting from improving economic conditions in its service territories. The constructive regulatory orders will also help the company. However, the rising debt level of Xcel Energy is a concern, in an interest hike environment, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average.”

A number of other brokerages have also recently issued reports on XEL. Deutsche Bank AG increased their target price on Xcel Energy from $45.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, April 28th. Jefferies Group LLC increased their target price on Xcel Energy from $44.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, March 23rd. Barclays PLC reissued an “equal weight” rating and issued a $47.00 target price (up from $44.00) on shares of Xcel Energy in a report on Sunday, April 23rd. Royal Bank Of Canada reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $45.00 target price on shares of Xcel Energy in a report on Friday, March 17th. Finally, Mizuho initiated coverage on Xcel Energy in a report on Wednesday, April 19th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $44.00 target price for the company. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company. Xcel Energy has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $47.44.

Analyst Recommendations for Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL)

Xcel Energy (XEL) traded down 0.06% on Thursday, reaching $47.52. The company had a trading volume of 595,478 shares. The company has a 50-day moving average of $46.57 and a 200 day moving average of $43.51. Xcel Energy has a one year low of $38.00 and a one year high of $48.50. The stock has a market cap of $24.13 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.56 and a beta of 0.18.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, April 27th. The utilities provider reported $0.47 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.50 by $0.03. Xcel Energy had a return on equity of 10.24% and a net margin of 9.94%. The company had revenue of $2.95 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.94 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.47 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 6.3% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts predict that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, July 20th. Investors of record on Thursday, June 15th will be given a dividend of $0.36 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, June 13th. This represents a $1.44 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.03%. Xcel Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 65.16%.

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Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Founders Capital Management acquired a new stake in Xcel Energy during the first quarter worth approximately $124,000. Reilly Financial Advisors LLC raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 5.8% in the first quarter. Reilly Financial Advisors LLC now owns 2,901 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $129,000 after buying an additional 160 shares during the period. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 0.5% in the first quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,994 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $133,000 after buying an additional 16 shares during the period. Brookfield Asset Management Inc. acquired a new stake in Xcel Energy during the first quarter worth approximately $163,000. Finally, North Star Investment Management Corp. raised its stake in Xcel Energy by 186.8% in the first quarter. North Star Investment Management Corp. now owns 3,685 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $164,000 after buying an additional 2,400 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.14% of the company’s stock.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include the activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers in eight states. The Company’s segments include regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The Company’s utility subsidiaries include NSP-Minnesota, NSP-Wisconsin, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) and Southwestern Public Service Co (SPS), which serve customers in portions of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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