Jefferies Group upgraded shares of Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) from an underperform rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday. Jefferies Group currently has $65.00 target price on the stock.

A number of other research analysts have also issued reports on SWX. Citigroup Inc. boosted their target price on shares of Southwest Gas Corp. from $62.00 to $79.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Wednesday, July 27th. Argus reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Southwest Gas Corp. in a research note on Thursday, September 8th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Southwest Gas Corp. from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, September 13th. Five analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $71.50.

Shares of Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) remained flat at $67.01 during mid-day trading on Thursday. The company had a trading volume of 31,113 shares. Southwest Gas Corp. has a 12 month low of $50.53 and a 12 month high of $79.58. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $69.55 and a 200 day moving average of $70.92. The firm has a market capitalization of $3.18 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.88 and a beta of 0.54.

Southwest Gas Corp. (NYSE:SWX) last posted its earnings results on Monday, August 8th. The company reported $0.19 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.18 by $0.01. The firm earned $547.70 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $559.21 million. Southwest Gas Corp. had a net margin of 5.90% and a return on equity of 9.07%. Southwest Gas Corp.’s revenue was up 1.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.13 EPS. Equities analysts predict that Southwest Gas Corp. will post $3.17 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, December 1st. Investors of record on Tuesday, November 15th will be issued a $0.45 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, November 10th. This represents a $1.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.69%. Southwest Gas Corp.’s payout ratio is currently 59.02%.

In other news, CFO Roy R. Centrella sold 1,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, September 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $71.54, for a total transaction of $71,540.00. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 31,618 shares in the company, valued at $2,261,951.72. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Eric Debonis sold 600 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $72.99, for a total transaction of $43,794.00. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 19,694 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,437,465.06. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.34% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Group LTD raised its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 7.6% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 100,078 shares of the company’s stock worth $6,590,000 after buying an additional 7,080 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 4.0% in the first quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 1,233,773 shares of the company’s stock worth $81,244,000 after buying an additional 47,840 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 13.6% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 44,329 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,920,000 after buying an additional 5,304 shares in the last quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas raised its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 13.8% in the second quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas now owns 6,631 shares of the company’s stock worth $522,000 after buying an additional 802 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Calvert Investment Management Inc. raised its stake in Southwest Gas Corp. by 2.6% in the second quarter. Calvert Investment Management Inc. now owns 10,601 shares of the company’s stock worth $834,000 after buying an additional 271 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 80.16% of the company’s stock.

About Southwest Gas Corp.

Southwest Gas Corporation is engaged in the business of purchasing, distributing and transporting natural gas in Arizona, Nevada and California. The Company operates through two segments: natural gas operations and construction services, which includes the operations of the Company’s subsidiary, Centuri Construction Group, Inc, (Centuri).

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