Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “NorthWestern Energy is a growing, financially sound, investor-owned energy company. It has provided reliable and affordable energy to customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. The company got its start in small communities, providing essential service that allowed them to grow and prosper. “

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the stock. Credit Suisse Group lifted their target price on shares of NorthWestern from $54.00 to $55.00 and gave the company a $58.28 rating in a report on Thursday, July 19th. Barclays began coverage on shares of NorthWestern in a report on Tuesday, July 10th. They set an equal weight rating and a $60.00 target price for the company. ValuEngine lowered shares of NorthWestern from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Friday, November 2nd. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co lifted their target price on shares of NorthWestern from $59.00 to $61.00 and gave the company a market perform rating in a report on Monday, September 17th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $61.00.

Shares of NYSE:NWE traded up $0.66 during trading on Tuesday, hitting $61.61. 253,765 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 361,082. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.07, a current ratio of 0.71 and a quick ratio of 0.56. The firm has a market cap of $3.07 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.67, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 7.93 and a beta of 0.08. NorthWestern has a 52-week low of $50.01 and a 52-week high of $64.47.

NorthWestern (NYSE:NWE) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The utilities provider reported $0.58 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.72 by ($0.14). The firm had revenue of $279.87 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $312.21 million. NorthWestern had a net margin of 14.53% and a return on equity of 9.64%. NorthWestern’s revenue for the quarter was down 9.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm earned $0.74 earnings per share. On average, sell-side analysts anticipate that NorthWestern will post 3.4 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, December 31st. Investors of record on Friday, December 14th will be issued a $0.55 dividend. This represents a $2.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.57%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 13th. NorthWestern’s payout ratio is presently 66.67%.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Burney Co. purchased a new stake in NorthWestern in the 2nd quarter worth $427,000. Sei Investments Co. increased its holdings in NorthWestern by 11.4% in the 2nd quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 46,965 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,689,000 after acquiring an additional 4,806 shares in the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its holdings in NorthWestern by 21.8% in the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 128,726 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $7,370,000 after acquiring an additional 23,000 shares in the last quarter. Millennium Management LLC increased its holdings in NorthWestern by 42.4% in the 2nd quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 588,698 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $33,703,000 after acquiring an additional 175,202 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Martingale Asset Management L P increased its holdings in NorthWestern by 2.8% in the 2nd quarter. Martingale Asset Management L P now owns 145,146 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $8,310,000 after acquiring an additional 4,006 shares in the last quarter. 96.62% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

NorthWestern Company Profile

NorthWestern Corporation, doing business as NorthWestern Energy, provides electricity and natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The company operates through Electric Operations and Natural Gas Operations segments. It generates, transmits, and distributes electricity; and produces, stores, transmits, and distributes natural gas, as well as owns municipal franchises to provide natural gas service in the communities.

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