Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has a $74.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target would suggest a potential upside of 9.47% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently commented on the company. Sidoti restated a “buy” rating and set a $75.00 target price (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research report on Monday, June 19th. BidaskClub cut Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating, two have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $66.00.

Shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NWN) traded up 0.45% during trading on Wednesday, hitting $67.60. The stock had a trading volume of 63,506 shares. The firm has a market cap of $1.94 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.25 and a beta of 0.42. Northwest Natural Gas has a 12-month low of $53.50 and a 12-month high of $67.75. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $64.87 and a 200 day moving average price of $61.30.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. Northwest Natural Gas had a return on equity of 7.51% and a net margin of 8.38%. The firm had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $78.51 million. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.07 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts expect that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.18 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In related news, CEO David Hugo Anderson sold 8,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.97, for a total value of $535,760.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 71,484 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $4,787,283.48. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total transaction of $123,120.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 2,027 shares in the company, valued at $124,782.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 14,000 shares of company stock worth $924,800 over the last ninety days. 1.48% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Flinton Capital Management LLC lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the 1st quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC now owns 1,876 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 84 shares in the last quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% in the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 2,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $123,000 after buying an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 61.0% in the 2nd quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 2,111 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $126,000 after buying an additional 800 shares in the last quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the 1st quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,200 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $130,000 after buying an additional 17 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Neuburgh Advisers LLC lifted its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the 1st quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC now owns 2,278 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $135,000 after buying an additional 102 shares in the last quarter. 63.46% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Northwest Natural Gas Company Profile

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries.

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