Williams Companies (WMB) Lowered to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Concerned with Williams Companies’ high debt levels and regulatory setbacks suffered by its Constitution Pipeline project, we are downgrading our investment thesis from ‘Hold’ to ‘Sell’. WMB’s high leverage of over 71% restricts the financial flexibility of the firm to tap on growth opportunities. Further, Constitution Pipeline—which has been denied water permit due to environmental reasons—is not likely to become operational till 2019, diluting the WMB’s near-term earnings outlook. As it is, weaker- than-expected earnings in the last three quarters is likely to dampen investors’ confidence. The termination of the Energy Transfer deal has also been a big blow to the firm. We also need to factor the WMB’s low ROE and extensive exposure to natural gas, which translates into uncertain near-term outlook for the company. As, such we view WMB as a risky bet for the time being.”

WMB has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Williams Companies in a research note on Monday, September 25th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $34.00 price target for the company. Credit Suisse Group assumed coverage on Williams Companies in a research note on Thursday. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $36.00 price target for the company. Morgan Stanley dropped their price target on Williams Companies from $34.00 to $33.00 and set an “overweight” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, November 17th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $36.00 price target on shares of Williams Companies in a research note on Monday, October 16th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating, ten have issued a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $34.08.

Shares of Williams Companies (NYSE WMB) traded down $0.09 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $32.46. The company had a trading volume of 6,197,216 shares, compared to its average volume of 5,770,000. Williams Companies has a 12 month low of $26.82 and a 12 month high of $32.69. The stock has a market capitalization of $26,840.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 56.95, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.90 and a beta of 1.36. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.38, a current ratio of 0.97 and a quick ratio of 0.91.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 1st. The pipeline company reported $0.15 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.19 by ($0.04). Williams Companies had a return on equity of 3.23% and a net margin of 5.90%. The business had revenue of $1.89 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.79 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.20 EPS. The business’s revenue was down .7% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts predict that Williams Companies will post 0.64 EPS for the current year.

In other news, CEO Alan S. Armstrong acquired 6,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 15th. The stock was acquired at an average price of $27.23 per share, with a total value of $163,380.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 345,527 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $9,408,700.21. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP Ted T. Timmermans sold 1,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, November 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.75, for a total value of $43,125.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 9,594 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $275,827.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of Alberta as represented by Alberta Investment Management Corp raised its position in shares of Williams Companies by 26.1% in the 4th quarter. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of the Province of Alberta as represented by Alberta Investment Management Corp now owns 228,600 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $5,875,000 after purchasing an additional 47,300 shares during the last quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System increased its holdings in Williams Companies by 1.6% in the 4th quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System now owns 1,387,897 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $35,669,000 after buying an additional 22,117 shares in the last quarter. Thornburg Investment Management Inc. increased its holdings in Williams Companies by 8.9% in the 4th quarter. Thornburg Investment Management Inc. now owns 3,393,625 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $87,216,000 after buying an additional 277,928 shares in the last quarter. Cibc World Markets Corp bought a new stake in Williams Companies in the 4th quarter worth about $25,836,000. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. increased its holdings in Williams Companies by 2.6% in the 4th quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 43,934,329 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $1,129,112,000 after buying an additional 1,133,739 shares in the last quarter. 84.75% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Williams Companies

The Williams Companies, Inc is an energy infrastructure company. The Company is focused on connecting North America’s hydrocarbon resource plays to markets for natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), and olefins. As of December 31, 2016, its interstate gas pipelines, midstream and olefins production interests were held through its investment in Williams Partners L.P.

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