PPL (PPL) Stock Rating Lowered by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of PPL (NYSE:PPL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Shares of PPL Corporation have underperformed the industry in the past six months. The company's operations are subject to stringent emission regulation and high-debt levels. Currently, its operating expenses are increasing at a higher rate compared with increase in revenues hurting margin. Ongoing changes in environmental regulations as well as costs of compliance with environmental laws are significant and change consistently. However, PPL Corporation is poised to gain from capital investment plan that focuses on infrastructure projects for generation, transmission and distribution. It has re-established its hedge levels to shield itself from any near-term decline in the GBP. The company’s asset portfolio and business model can adapt to various market scenarios.”

PPL has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Royal Bank of Canada lowered shares of PPL from an outperform rating to a sector perform rating and upped their target price for the stock from $32.00 to $33.00 in a research report on Friday, March 8th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Bank of America lowered shares of PPL from a neutral rating to an underperform rating and dropped their target price for the stock from $29.00 to $28.00 in a research report on Monday, January 14th. SunTrust Banks restated a buy rating and set a $35.00 target price on shares of PPL in a research report on Wednesday, February 13th. Raymond James restated an average rating on shares of PPL in a research report on Monday, May 6th. Finally, Evercore ISI lowered shares of PPL from an outperform rating to an in-line rating in a research report on Thursday, February 7th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. PPL presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $34.33.

Shares of NYSE PPL traded down $0.40 during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $30.69. The stock had a trading volume of 40,951 shares, compared to its average volume of 4,156,857. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.73, a current ratio of 0.60 and a quick ratio of 0.53. The stock has a market cap of $22.63 billion, a PE ratio of 12.78, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.59 and a beta of 0.52. PPL has a 12-month low of $25.30 and a 12-month high of $32.88.

PPL (NYSE:PPL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, May 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.70 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by ($0.03). The firm had revenue of $2.08 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.19 billion. PPL had a return on equity of 14.52% and a net margin of 23.79%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.74 earnings per share. On average, research analysts expect that PPL will post 2.42 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 1st. Investors of record on Monday, June 10th will be given a dividend of $0.4125 per share. This represents a $1.65 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 5.38%. PPL’s dividend payout ratio is 68.75%.

In other PPL news, Chairman William H. Spence sold 225,365 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $32.50, for a total transaction of $7,324,362.50. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. 0.34% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Liberty Wealth Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of PPL in the 4th quarter worth about $27,000. Sandy Spring Bank lifted its holdings in shares of PPL by 109.1% in the 4th quarter. Sandy Spring Bank now owns 1,171 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $34,000 after acquiring an additional 611 shares during the last quarter. Private Capital Group LLC increased its stake in PPL by 68.6% in the 1st quarter. Private Capital Group LLC now owns 1,111 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $35,000 after buying an additional 452 shares during the period. Berman Capital Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in PPL in the 4th quarter worth approximately $39,000. Finally, Resources Investment Advisors Inc. increased its holdings in PPL by 129.8% in the 1st quarter. Resources Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 1,241 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $39,000 after acquiring an additional 701 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 74.95% of the company’s stock.

About PPL

PPL Corporation, a utility holding company, delivers electricity and natural gas in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company operates through three segments: U.K. Regulated, Kentucky Regulated, and Pennsylvania Regulated. It serves approximately 414,000 electric and 328,000 natural gas customers in Louisville and adjacent areas in Kentucky; 527,000 electric customers in central, southeastern, and western Kentucky; and 28,000 electric customers in 5 counties in southwestern Virginia.

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