Begins Coverage on Avista (NYSE:AVA) assumed coverage on shares of Avista (NYSE:AVAGet Rating) in a research report released on Thursday. The firm issued a sell rating on the utilities provider’s stock.

A number of other equities analysts have also commented on the company. TheStreet raised Avista from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a report on Wednesday, February 22nd. Mizuho lowered Avista from a neutral rating to an underperform rating and cut their price target for the stock from $45.00 to $38.00 in a report on Thursday, February 9th.

Avista Stock Performance

NYSE:AVA opened at $41.52 on Thursday. The stock has a market cap of $3.12 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.58, a PEG ratio of 3.48 and a beta of 0.49. The company has a current ratio of 0.75, a quick ratio of 0.64 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.00. The stock has a 50 day simple moving average of $41.18 and a 200 day simple moving average of $40.66. Avista has a 1-year low of $35.72 and a 1-year high of $46.60.

Avista (NYSE:AVAGet Rating) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, February 22nd. The utilities provider reported $1.05 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.33. Avista had a return on equity of 6.87% and a net margin of 9.14%. The company had revenue of $496.80 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $371.59 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.71 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 18.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Research analysts anticipate that Avista will post 2.32 earnings per share for the current year.

Avista Increases Dividend

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, March 15th. Investors of record on Friday, February 17th were given a $0.46 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, February 16th. This is a boost from Avista’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.44. This represents a $1.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.43%. Avista’s dividend payout ratio is 86.79%.

Insider Activity at Avista

In other Avista news, VP Bryan Alden Cox sold 2,542 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, February 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $41.30, for a total value of $104,984.60. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 4,698 shares in the company, valued at approximately $194,027.40. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. 0.94% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Institutional Investors Weigh In On Avista

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of AVA. Millennium Management LLC increased its stake in Avista by 624.7% in the 4th quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 2,945,495 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $130,603,000 after buying an additional 2,539,057 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp lifted its holdings in shares of Avista by 27.0% in the 1st quarter. State Street Corp now owns 3,311,667 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $149,522,000 after acquiring an additional 704,947 shares during the last quarter. Norges Bank bought a new position in shares of Avista in the 4th quarter valued at about $30,554,000. Susquehanna International Group LLP lifted its holdings in shares of Avista by 2,186.8% in the 4th quarter. Susquehanna International Group LLP now owns 534,545 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $23,702,000 after acquiring an additional 511,170 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Avista by 189.9% in the 3rd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 641,007 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $23,749,000 after acquiring an additional 419,864 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 82.92% of the company’s stock.

About Avista

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Avista Corp. is a holding company, which engages in the provision of electric and natural gas utility business. It operates through the Avista Utilities, and Alaska Electric Light and Power Company (AEL&P) segments. The Avista Utilities segment includes electric distribution and transmission, and natural gas distribution services in parts of eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Northeastern and Southwestern Oregon.

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