Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Sempra Energy continues to face headwinds in the form of stringent government regulations and operational risks. Further it is exposed to foreign currency risks because of its international presence and has to invest substantially to expand its operations. Also a few pending regulatory cases for Sempra Energy’s regulated utilities are subject to approvals by regulatory bodies. Any adverse decision in the upcoming General Rate Case and Cost-of-Capital proceedings will substantially affect its utility earnings. However, the company’s future cash inflow will likely get tailwinds from LNG development prospects and renewable expansion. Steady focus on the expansion of its renewable capacity will enable the company to provide emission-free power to its customers. It is also confident of attaining 12% earnings CAGR through 2020 backed by these factors.”

Separately, Argus restated a buy rating on shares of Sempra Energy in a research note on Tuesday, September 20th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $110.87.

Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) traded up 0.92% during midday trading on Wednesday, hitting $104.44. The stock had a trading volume of 205,919 shares. The company has a market cap of $26.12 billion, a PE ratio of 27.58 and a beta of 0.49. Sempra Energy has a 12-month low of $86.72 and a 12-month high of $114.66. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $105.71 and a 200-day moving average of $107.05.

Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, August 4th. The company reported $0.79 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.18. Sempra Energy had a net margin of 9.56% and a return on equity of 9.49%. The company earned $2.16 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.62 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.03 EPS. The business’s revenue was down 8.9% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts forecast that Sempra Energy will post $4.77 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, October 15th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, September 29th will be paid a dividend of $0.755 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 27th. This represents a $3.02 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.92%. Sempra Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 79.68%.

In other Sempra Energy news, SVP Trevor I. Mihalik sold 5,659 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $106.86, for a total value of $604,720.74. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 2,615 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $279,438.90. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director William P. Rutledge sold 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $107.20, for a total transaction of $536,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 10,838 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,161,833.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.16% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Point72 Asia Hong Kong Ltd boosted its position in shares of Sempra Energy by 200.0% in the second quarter. Point72 Asia Hong Kong Ltd now owns 900 shares of the company’s stock worth $103,000 after buying an additional 600 shares during the period. Riggs Asset Managment Co. Inc. bought a new position in shares of Sempra Energy during the second quarter worth about $114,000. Cantab Capital Partners LLP bought a new position in shares of Sempra Energy during the second quarter worth about $126,000. Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC bought a new position in shares of Sempra Energy during the second quarter worth about $128,000. Finally, FineMark National Bank & Trust boosted its position in shares of Sempra Energy by 4.3% in the second quarter. FineMark National Bank & Trust now owns 1,134 shares of the company’s stock worth $129,000 after buying an additional 47 shares during the period. 79.54% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Sempra Energy Company Profile

Sempra Energy is a holding company. The Company’s principal operating units are San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas); Sempra International, which includes Sempra South American Utilities and Sempra Mexico segments, and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, which includes Sempra Renewables and Sempra Natural Gas segments.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:SRE

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