Short Interest in Unitil Co. (NYSE:UTL) Declines By 19.4%

Unitil Co. (NYSE:UTL) was the recipient of a large decline in short interest in July. As of July 15th, there was short interest totalling 145,000 shares, a decline of 19.4% from the June 30th total of 179,900 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 68,700 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 2.1 days. Approximately 1.0% of the company’s stock are short sold.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of UTL. Aigen Investment Management LP acquired a new stake in shares of Unitil in the first quarter worth $25,000. Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. acquired a new stake in shares of Unitil in the first quarter worth $52,000. AJO LP acquired a new stake in shares of Unitil in the first quarter worth $82,000. Federated Hermes Inc. increased its stake in shares of Unitil by 43.4% in the first quarter. Federated Hermes Inc. now owns 2,496 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $130,000 after acquiring an additional 755 shares during the period. Finally, Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. increased its stake in shares of Unitil by 12.5% in the fourth quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. now owns 2,719 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $168,000 after acquiring an additional 303 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.10% of the company’s stock.

Several research firms recently commented on UTL. Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $56.00 price objective on shares of Unitil in a research note on Thursday, July 23rd. TheStreet lowered shares of Unitil from a “b-” rating to a “c+” rating in a research note on Thursday, July 9th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Unitil from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Friday, June 12th. Finally, Bank of America reduced their price objective on shares of Unitil from $53.00 to $52.00 and set an “underperform” rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, May 6th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $56.67.

Shares of Unitil stock opened at $43.15 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.86, a quick ratio of 0.79 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.13. Unitil has a 12-month low of $39.33 and a 12-month high of $65.76. The firm has a market capitalization of $645.48 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.07, a PEG ratio of 3.97 and a beta of 0.17. The firm’s 50 day simple moving average is $45.72 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $52.67.

Unitil (NYSE:UTL) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 30th. The utilities provider reported $0.21 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.22 by ($0.01). Unitil had a net margin of 7.69% and a return on equity of 8.46%. The company had revenue of $83.90 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $81.00 million. On average, sell-side analysts predict that Unitil will post 2.26 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, August 28th. Shareholders of record on Friday, August 14th will be paid a dividend of $0.375 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, August 13th. This represents a $1.50 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.48%. Unitil’s payout ratio is 64.94%.

About Unitil

Unitil Corporation, a public utility holding company, engages in the distribution of electricity and natural gas in the United States. It operates through three segments: Utility Gas Operations, Utility Electric Operations, and Non-Regulated. The company distributes electricity in the southeastern seacoast and state capital regions of New Hampshire, and the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts; and distributes natural gas in southeastern New Hampshire, portions of southern Maine to the Lewiston-Auburn area, and in the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts.

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