Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Spark Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPKE) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Wednesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $23.00 target price on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Spark Energy, Inc. is an independent retail energy services company. It provides residential and commercial customers across the United States with an alternative choice for their natural gas and electricity. The company is involved in the retail distribution of natural gas and electricity. It also offers renewable and carbon neutral products. Spark Energy, Inc. is headquartered in Houston, Texas. “

Other analysts have also issued reports about the stock. TheStreet upgraded shares of Spark Energy from a c rating to a b- rating in a report on Monday, May 8th. Wunderlich increased their target price on shares of Spark Energy from $22.00 to $27.50 and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Monday, June 12th. FBR & Co set a $24.00 target price on shares of Spark Energy and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Monday, July 10th. Guggenheim upgraded shares of Spark Energy from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $23.00 target price for the company in a report on Friday, July 7th. Finally, Janney Montgomery Scott set a $22.00 target price on shares of Spark Energy and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, May 23rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and five have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $23.08.

Spark Energy (NASDAQ:SPKE) traded up 1.58% on Wednesday, hitting $19.25. The stock had a trading volume of 262,698 shares. Spark Energy has a 52-week low of $11.52 and a 52-week high of $23.65. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $20.86 and its 200-day moving average is $17.37. The company has a market cap of $255.06 million, a P/E ratio of 20.70 and a beta of -1.62.

Spark Energy (NASDAQ:SPKE) last posted its earnings results on Monday, May 8th. The utilities provider reported $0.17 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.38 by $0.21. The firm had revenue of $194.35 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $140.07 million. Spark Energy had a return on equity of 11.82% and a net margin of 2.10%. Analysts expect that Spark Energy will post $1.24 earnings per share for the current year.

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Spark Energy announced that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback program on Wednesday, May 24th that authorizes the company to repurchase $50.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the utilities provider to repurchase up to 19.2% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 14th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, August 29th will be issued a $0.1813 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Friday, August 25th. This represents a $0.73 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.77%. Spark Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 89.02%.

In related news, Director W Keith Maxwell III acquired 1,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 30th. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $43.63 per share, for a total transaction of $43,630.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the director now directly owns 345,565 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $15,077,000.95. The purchase was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, CEO Nathan Kroeker sold 21,244 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, May 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.13, for a total transaction of $916,253.72. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 28,135 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,213,462.55. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders acquired 47,605 shares of company stock valued at $1,815,426 and sold 172,586 shares valued at $4,124,016. Company insiders own 66.89% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in SPKE. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC raised its position in Spark Energy by 1.1% in the first quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 8,900 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $284,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA raised its position in Spark Energy by 1.2% in the first quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA now owns 29,239 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $934,000 after buying an additional 349 shares in the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its position in Spark Energy by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 109,975 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $3,332,000 after buying an additional 500 shares in the last quarter. Bard Associates Inc. raised its position in Spark Energy by 0.8% in the first quarter. Bard Associates Inc. now owns 91,715 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,930,000 after buying an additional 700 shares in the last quarter. Finally, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. raised its position in Spark Energy by 7.5% in the first quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 12,902 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $413,000 after buying an additional 902 shares in the last quarter. 21.61% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Spark Energy Company Profile

Spark Energy, Inc is an independent retail energy services company. The Company provides residential and commercial customers across the United States with an alternative choice for their natural gas and electricity. The Company operates through two segments: Retail Natural Gas Segment and Retail Electricity Segment.

Analyst Recommendations for Spark Energy (NASDAQ:SPKE)

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