Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NYSE:NWN) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “NW Natural is principally engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) has allocated to NW Natural as its exclusive service area a major portion of western Oregon, including the Portland metropolitan area, most of the fertile Willamette Valley and the coastal area from Astoria to Coos Bay. NW Natural also holds certificates from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) granting it exclusive rights to serve portions of three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River. “

Separately, Guggenheim assumed coverage on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research report on Thursday, November 3rd. They issued a “neutral” rating on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating, one has given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $64.50.

Shares of Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) opened at 56.35 on Wednesday. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52 week low of $47.22 and a 52 week high of $66.17. The firm has a market cap of $1.55 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 25.79 and a beta of 0.32. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $57.58 and a 200 day moving average of $59.84.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 2nd. The company reported ($0.29) earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of ($0.34) by $0.05. The company had revenue of $87.73 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $70.12 million. Northwest Natural Gas had a net margin of 8.96% and a return on equity of 7.87%. The business’s quarterly revenue was down 5.8% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted ($0.24) EPS. Equities analysts predict that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.23 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, November 15th. Stockholders of record on Monday, October 31st were given a dividend of $0.47 per share. This is a positive change from Northwest Natural Gas’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.88 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.34%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, October 27th. Northwest Natural Gas’s payout ratio is 85.84%.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Sharkey Howes & Javer raised its stake in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the second quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,148 shares of the company’s stock valued at $139,000 after buying an additional 17 shares during the period. Capstone Asset Management Co. increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.4% in the third quarter. Capstone Asset Management Co. now owns 8,380 shares of the company’s stock valued at $504,000 after buying an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Garrison Financial Corp increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.7% in the second quarter. Garrison Financial Corp now owns 5,909 shares of the company’s stock valued at $383,000 after buying an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. Advisor Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 3.2% in the third quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 2,210 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 69 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Louisiana State Employees Retirement System increased its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the second quarter. Louisiana State Employees Retirement System now owns 12,200 shares of the company’s stock valued at $791,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 61.87% of the company’s stock.

About Northwest Natural Gas

Northwest Natural Gas Company is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries. The local gas distribution business, referred to as the utility segment, serves residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and southwest Washington.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:NWN

Receive News & Stock Ratings for Northwest Natural Gas Co. Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Northwest Natural Gas Co. and related stocks with our FREE daily email newsletter.