Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Friday morning. The brokerage currently has $109.00 target price on the railroad operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “We are impressed by Norfolk Southern’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 due to weak energy markets and low coal shipments in U.S. The company is scheduled to report third quarter results on Oct 26.”

Several other equities analysts also recently weighed in on NSC. Deutsche Bank AG decreased their price target on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. from $90.00 to $89.00 and set a hold rating on the stock in a research note on Thursday, July 28th. Atlantic Securities began coverage on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Thursday, August 11th. They set a neutral rating and a $104.00 price objective for the company. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. began coverage on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. They set a market perform rating for the company. BMO Capital Markets restated a market perform rating and set a $93.00 price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Thursday, July 7th. Finally, Citigroup Inc. restated a hold rating and set a $87.00 price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Friday, June 17th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have assigned a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $89.62.

Analyst Recommendations for Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC)

Shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) traded down 0.67% during midday trading on Friday, hitting $96.13. 753,693 shares of the stock traded hands. Norfolk Southern Corp. has a 52-week low of $64.51 and a 52-week high of $98.75. The company has a market cap of $28.22 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.01 and a beta of 1.27. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $93.61 and a 200-day moving average of $88.08.

Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The railroad operator reported $1.36 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $2.45 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.51 billion. Norfolk Southern Corp. had a net margin of 15.88% and a return on equity of 13.34%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 9.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.41 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts predict that Norfolk Southern Corp. will post $5.46 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, September 10th. Investors of record on Monday, August 8th were given a dividend of $0.59 per share. This represents a $2.36 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.44%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, August 4th. Norfolk Southern Corp.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 44.19%.

In other Norfolk Southern Corp. news, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 850 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $92.28, for a total value of $78,438.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 10,730 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $990,164.40. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, VP James A. Hixon sold 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $94.15, for a total transaction of $941,500.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 129,074 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $12,152,317.10. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.66% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of NSC. Sun Life Financial INC purchased a new stake in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. during the first quarter valued at about $72,344,000. Zions Bancorporation increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 90.4% in the second quarter. Zions Bancorporation now owns 1,369 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $116,000 after buying an additional 650 shares during the period. Independent Portfolio Consultants Inc. increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 165.5% in the second quarter. Independent Portfolio Consultants Inc. now owns 1,460 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $124,000 after buying an additional 910 shares during the period. ClariVest Asset Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. during the second quarter valued at about $125,000. Finally, Oakworth Capital Inc. increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 46.5% in the second quarter. Oakworth Capital Inc. now owns 1,748 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $147,000 after buying an additional 555 shares during the period. 67.90% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Norfolk Southern Corp. Company Profile

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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:NSC

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