Northwest Natural Gas Co (NWN) Short Interest Up 68.1% in January

Northwest Natural Gas Co (NYSE:NWN) was the recipient of a significant increase in short interest during the month of January. As of January 31st, there was short interest totalling 1,152,824 shares, an increase of 68.1% from the January 12th total of 685,836 shares. Currently, 4.1% of the company’s shares are sold short. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 146,800 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 7.9 days.

A number of equities analysts have issued reports on NWN shares. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Northwest Natural Gas from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $75.00 target price on the stock in a report on Saturday, November 18th. TheStreet cut Northwest Natural Gas from a “b” rating to a “c+” rating in a report on Friday, January 12th. Sidoti cut Northwest Natural Gas from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $63.00 target price on the stock. in a report on Monday, January 8th. Royal Bank of Canada started coverage on Northwest Natural Gas in a report on Tuesday, December 19th. They set a “sector perform” rating and a $63.00 target price on the stock. Finally, Guggenheim cut Northwest Natural Gas from a “neutral” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Tuesday, January 2nd. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $67.00.

Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE:NWN) opened at $55.45 on Wednesday. Northwest Natural Gas has a 1-year low of $52.47 and a 1-year high of $69.50. The company has a current ratio of 0.98, a quick ratio of 0.69 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.89. The firm has a market capitalization of $1,610.80, a PE ratio of 25.20, a PEG ratio of 5.48 and a beta of 0.33.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, February 15th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, January 31st will be issued a dividend of $0.4725 per share. This represents a $1.89 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.41%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, January 30th. Northwest Natural Gas’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 85.91%.

In other Northwest Natural Gas news, Director Mark S. Dodson sold 1,036 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, January 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $56.05, for a total transaction of $58,067.80. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. 1.48% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in NWN. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio lifted its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 2.0% during the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio now owns 2,063 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $123,000 after purchasing an additional 40 shares in the last quarter. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Northwest Natural Gas by 6.4% during the 2nd quarter. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. now owns 2,496 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $149,000 after purchasing an additional 150 shares in the last quarter. Coldstream Capital Management Inc. bought a new position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the 3rd quarter valued at about $208,000. Murphy Capital Management Inc. bought a new position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the 3rd quarter valued at about $212,000. Finally, BlueCrest Capital Management Ltd bought a new position in shares of Northwest Natural Gas during the 2nd quarter valued at about $231,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 64.79% of the company’s stock.

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About Northwest Natural Gas

Northwest Natural Gas Company (NW Natural) is engaged in the distribution of natural gas. The Company’s segments include Local Gas Distribution, Gas Storage and other. The Company maintains operations in Oregon, Washington and California and conducts businesses through NW Natural and its subsidiaries.

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