Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Hess is among the leading producers of crude in the Bakken oil shale play in North Dakota. The company has interests in the best areas of the play. With the projection of healthy oil price following the possibility that OPEC might extend the production cut deal beyond March 2018, we believe that Bakken play should contribute to the company’s production growth in the long run. Hess declared new oil discovery from the Payara-1 well located off the coast of Guyana. The project may add significant value in the coming years. However, the firm’s long-term debt has increased significantly since the beginning of 2014 reflecting balance sheet weakness. On top of that, it probably is unfeasible for Hess to fund growth projects as its free cashflow has been negative for almost two years. Moreover, the company has lost 34.4% year to date, underperforming the industry’s 18.7% decline.”

A number of other analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. Scotiabank set a $53.00 price objective on Hess Corporation and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, June 20th. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $47.00 price objective on Hess Corporation and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, August 25th. Barclays PLC reissued an equal weight rating and set a $50.00 price objective (down previously from $61.00) on shares of Hess Corporation in a report on Wednesday, July 12th. Cowen and Company set a $55.00 price objective on Hess Corporation and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Monday, July 10th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets reissued a hold rating and set a $55.00 price objective on shares of Hess Corporation in a report on Monday, May 15th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Hess Corporation currently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $52.13.

Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) traded up 0.14% on Tuesday, reaching $42.06. The company had a trading volume of 1,035,249 shares. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $40.89 and its 200-day moving average price is $45.26. Hess Corporation has a 12-month low of $37.25 and a 12-month high of $65.56. The stock’s market capitalization is $13.22 billion.

Hess Corporation (NYSE:HES) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 26th. The oil and gas producer reported ($1.46) earnings per share for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of ($1.32) by ($0.14). The firm had revenue of $1.23 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.19 billion. Hess Corporation had a negative return on equity of 8.49% and a negative net margin of 118.07%. The firm’s revenue was down 3.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted ($1.10) EPS. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Hess Corporation will post ($4.80) EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 29th. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 18th will be issued a $0.25 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 15th. This represents a $1.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.37%. Hess Corporation’s payout ratio is currently -5.18%.

In related news, COO Gregory P. Hill sold 11,726 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $38.37, for a total transaction of $449,926.62. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, insider Barbara J. Lowery-Yilmaz sold 3,873 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $43.47, for a total value of $168,359.31. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 11.80% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in HES. D Orazio & Associates Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Hess Corporation by 266.7% during the 1st quarter. D Orazio & Associates Inc. now owns 2,200 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock valued at $106,000 after buying an additional 1,600 shares in the last quarter. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Hess Corporation by 7.3% during the 2nd quarter. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. now owns 2,464 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock valued at $108,000 after buying an additional 167 shares in the last quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue purchased a new position in shares of Hess Corporation during the 1st quarter valued at about $114,000. Korea Investment CORP raised its holdings in shares of Hess Corporation by 142.0% during the 2nd quarter. Korea Investment CORP now owns 2,645 shares of the oil and gas producer’s stock valued at $116,000 after buying an additional 1,552 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Lenox Wealth Advisors Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Hess Corporation during the 2nd quarter valued at about $132,000. 87.15% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Hess Corporation

Hess Corporation is an exploration and production company. The Company is engaged in exploration, development, production, transportation, purchase and sale of crude oil, natural gas liquids (NGL) and natural gas. The Company’s segments include Exploration and Production, and Bakken Midstream. Its Exploration and Production segment explores for, develops, produces, purchases and sells crude oil, NGLs and natural gas with production operations primarily in the United States, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, the Malaysia/Thailand Joint Development Area (JDA), Malaysia and Norway.

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