Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) has received a consensus recommendation of “Hold” from the six research firms that are covering the firm, Marketbeat reports. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell recommendation, two have assigned a hold recommendation, one has issued a buy recommendation and one has issued a strong buy recommendation on the company. The average twelve-month price target among analysts that have issued a report on the stock in the last year is $62.00.

A number of brokerages have weighed in on NWN. BidaskClub raised shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report on Saturday, August 5th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 13th.

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Shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) opened at 66.85 on Friday. The company’s 50-day moving average is $65.80 and its 200 day moving average is $62.93. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.92 billion, a P/E ratio of 29.91 and a beta of 0.42. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52 week low of $53.50 and a 52 week high of $68.60.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.06 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $78.51 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.38% and a return on equity of 7.51%. Northwest Natural Gas’s revenue was up 37.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.07 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts forecast that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.16 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 15th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, October 31st will be given a dividend of $0.4725 per share. This represents a $1.89 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.83%. This is a boost from Northwest Natural Gas’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, October 30th. Northwest Natural Gas’s payout ratio is 85.07%.

In other news, VP Grant M. Yoshihara sold 2,000 shares of Northwest Natural Gas stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $66.03, for a total transaction of $132,060.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 15,301 shares in the company, valued at $1,010,325.03. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Martha L. Byorum sold 1,202 shares of Northwest Natural Gas stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, September 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.88, for a total transaction of $77,985.76. Following the sale, the director now owns 1,202 shares in the company, valued at approximately $77,985.76. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 13,202 shares of company stock worth $879,666. 1.48% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Crossmark Global Holdings Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the third quarter valued at approximately $352,000. Aperio Group LLC raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 3.3% during the third quarter. Aperio Group LLC now owns 27,071 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,743,000 after purchasing an additional 857 shares during the period. Personal Capital Advisors Corp raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 209.9% during the third quarter. Personal Capital Advisors Corp now owns 28,817 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,856,000 after purchasing an additional 19,518 shares during the period. APG Asset Management N.V. purchased a new stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the third quarter valued at approximately $799,000. Finally, Murphy Capital Management Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the third quarter valued at approximately $212,000. Institutional investors own 63.29% of the company’s stock.

About Northwest Natural Gas

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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