Zacks Investment Research Lowers NorthWestern (NASDAQ:NWE) to Sell

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of NorthWestern (NASDAQ:NWE) from a buy rating to a sell rating in a report issued on Wednesday morning, Zacks.com reports.

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. “

A number of other analysts have also recently issued reports on NWE. Wells Fargo & Company dropped their price objective on NorthWestern from $74.00 to $72.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, July 29th. KeyCorp reduced their price objective on NorthWestern from $72.00 to $70.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, July 20th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. Based on data from MarketBeat.com, the stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $67.83.

Shares of NWE opened at $57.74 on Wednesday. NorthWestern has a 52-week low of $50.22 and a 52-week high of $70.80. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.16, a quick ratio of 0.80 and a current ratio of 1.00. The business’s 50 day moving average price is $61.67 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $63.31. The firm has a market cap of $2.98 billion, a PE ratio of 16.04, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.63 and a beta of 0.45.

NorthWestern (NASDAQ:NWE) last issued its earnings results on Monday, July 26th. The company reported $0.72 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.46 by $0.26. NorthWestern had a return on equity of 9.33% and a net margin of 14.18%. The company had revenue of $298.22 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $275.31 million. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.43 earnings per share. NorthWestern’s revenue for the quarter was up 10.7% on a year-over-year basis. Research analysts predict that NorthWestern will post 3.52 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 30th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, September 15th were given a dividend of $0.62 per share. This represents a $2.48 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.30%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, September 14th. NorthWestern’s dividend payout ratio is currently 74.03%.

In related news, VP Curtis T. Pohl sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, August 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.77, for a total transaction of $127,540.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, CEO Robert C. Rowe sold 3,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $61.87, for a total transaction of $185,610.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 6,100 shares of company stock worth $381,955 over the last 90 days. Insiders own 1.17% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of NWE. Eagle Bay Advisors LLC purchased a new position in NorthWestern during the second quarter worth about $25,000. Captrust Financial Advisors raised its holdings in NorthWestern by 581.1% during the first quarter. Captrust Financial Advisors now owns 647 shares of the company’s stock worth $42,000 after purchasing an additional 552 shares in the last quarter. Berman Capital Advisors LLC raised its holdings in NorthWestern by 27.1% during the third quarter. Berman Capital Advisors LLC now owns 1,107 shares of the company’s stock worth $63,000 after purchasing an additional 236 shares in the last quarter. William Blair Investment Management LLC purchased a new position in NorthWestern during the second quarter worth about $79,000. Finally, Dark Forest Capital Management LP purchased a new position in NorthWestern during the second quarter worth about $97,000. 92.64% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

NorthWestern Company Profile

NorthWestern Corp. engages in generating and distributing electricity and natural gas. It operates through the following segments: Electric Utility Operations, Natural Gas Operations, and All Other. The Electric Utility Operations segment includes generation, transmission, and distribution of electric utility business as a vertically integrated generation transmission and distribution utility.

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