Norfolk Southern Corp. (NSC) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Wednesday morning. They currently have $106.00 price target on the railroad operator’s stock.
According to Zacks, “We are impressed by the company’s focus on rewarding shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. The company's cost-cutting efforts to drive the bottom-line is also encouraging. For 2016, the company is targeting productivity savings of at least $200 million and an operating ratio below 70%. Additionally, the inauguration of the expanded 102-year old Panama Canal might prove to be beneficial for the company due to the likely increase in container traffic at East Coast ports. However, concerns related to top line growth remain. Norfolk Southern’s top line growth has been impacted due to weak energy markets in the U.S. Coal shipments have continued to stay at low levels and a significant improvement seems unlikely. At a recent conference, the company mentioned that for coal volumes are expected to remain low for the second half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.”
Several other equities research analysts have also weighed in on the company. Citigroup Inc. upped their price objective on Norfolk Southern Corp. from $87.00 to $97.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Tuesday, September 13th. Barclays PLC decreased their price target on Norfolk Southern Corp. from $104.00 to $92.00 and set an equal weight rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, September 12th. Loop Capital restated a hold rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Friday, September 9th. Atlantic Securities assumed coverage on Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Thursday, August 11th. They set a neutral rating and a $104.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Argus restated a buy rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, August 3rd. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have assigned a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $89.49.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) traded down 0.27% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $95.27. The stock had a trading volume of 144,551 shares. Norfolk Southern Corp. has a 1-year low of $64.51 and a 1-year high of $98.75. The firm has a market cap of $27.97 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.84 and a beta of 1.28. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $92.17 and a 200-day moving average of $87.38.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 27th. The railroad operator reported $1.36 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.01. Norfolk Southern Corp. had a return on equity of 13.34% and a net margin of 15.88%. The company had revenue of $2.45 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.51 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.41 EPS. The company’s revenue was down 9.5% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts predict that Norfolk Southern Corp. will post $5.45 EPS for the current fiscal year.
The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, September 10th. Investors of record on Monday, August 8th were issued a $0.59 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, August 4th. This represents a $2.36 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.47%. Norfolk Southern Corp.’s payout ratio is 44.19%.
In related news, VP James A. Hixon sold 10,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $94.15, for a total value of $941,500.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 129,074 shares in the company, valued at $12,152,317.10. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 528 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $88.35, for a total transaction of $46,648.80. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 11,580 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,023,093. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.66% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.
Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Lazard Asset Management LLC raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 133.8% in the first quarter. Lazard Asset Management LLC now owns 7,098,296 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $590,931,000 after buying an additional 4,062,019 shares in the last quarter. FMR LLC raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 69.8% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 3,901,583 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $332,142,000 after buying an additional 1,603,911 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 35.5% in the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 3,628,950 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $308,932,000 after buying an additional 951,665 shares in the last quarter. American Century Companies Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 69.9% in the second quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 1,672,364 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $142,368,000 after buying an additional 687,976 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 2.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 20,272,445 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $1,725,793,000 after buying an additional 478,702 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 67.90% of the company’s stock.
About Norfolk Southern Corp.
Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. The Company operates approximately 20,000 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest.
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