Northwest Natural Gas Company (NYSE:NWN) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Tuesday, July 11th. The firm presently has a $68.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective indicates a potential upside of 4.62% from the company’s current price.

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. “

A number of other analysts have also commented on the company. BidaskClub lowered Northwest Natural Gas from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Saturday, June 24th. Sidoti reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $75.00 price objective (up from $68.00) on shares of Northwest Natural Gas in a research note on Monday, June 19th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating, two have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $65.67.

Northwest Natural Gas (NWN) opened at 65.00 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.86 billion, a P/E ratio of 29.08 and a beta of 0.43. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $61.44 and its 200-day moving average is $60.03. Northwest Natural Gas has a 52-week low of $53.50 and a 52-week high of $65.39.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.10 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.06 by $0.04. Northwest Natural Gas had a return on equity of 7.51% and a net margin of 8.38%. The firm had revenue of $136.24 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $78.51 million. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.07 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 37.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts expect that Northwest Natural Gas will post $2.18 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other Northwest Natural Gas news, CEO David A. Weber sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $61.56, for a total value of $123,120.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 2,027 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $124,782.12. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, VP Shawn M. Filippi sold 1,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, June 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.27, for a total value of $74,724.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 1,330 shares in the company, valued at $82,819.10. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 6,224 shares of company stock worth $384,376. 1.48% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Flinton Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the first quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC now owns 1,876 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 84 shares during the period. Sharkey Howes & Javer increased its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.8% in the first quarter. Sharkey Howes & Javer now owns 2,200 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $130,000 after buying an additional 17 shares in the last quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC increased its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 4.7% in the first quarter. Neuburgh Advisers LLC now owns 2,278 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $135,000 after buying an additional 102 shares in the last quarter. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. purchased a new stake in Northwest Natural Gas during the first quarter valued at approximately $139,000. Finally, Creative Planning increased its stake in Northwest Natural Gas by 0.3% in the second quarter. Creative Planning now owns 2,436 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $146,000 after buying an additional 8 shares in the last quarter. 63.71% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Northwest Natural Gas

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) 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.

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