Zacks Investment Research Lowers Southwest Gas (SWX) to Sell

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Southwest Gas (NYSE:SWX) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Southwest Gas Holdings, Inc. is an energy holding company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Southwest Gas Holdings, Inc. owns two primary operating companies, Southwest Gas Corporation and Centuri Construction Group, Inc. Southwest Gas Corporation is a regulated utility and provides natural gas service to more than 1.9 million residential, commercial, and industrial customers in most of Arizona and Nevada, and parts of northeastern and southeastern California. Centuri Construction Group, Inc., is a full-service underground piping contractor that primarily provides utility companies with trenching and installation, replacement, and maintenance services for energy distribution systems, and develops industrial construction solutions. Centuri Construction Group Inc. operates in major markets across the United States and Canada. “

A number of other research analysts also recently commented on SWX. ValuEngine downgraded Southwest Gas from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, November 1st. Williams Capital boosted their price target on Southwest Gas from $74.00 to $78.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Monday, December 3rd. UBS Group set a $93.00 target price on Southwest Gas and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Friday, December 14th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co began coverage on Southwest Gas in a research report on Tuesday, January 15th. They issued a market perform rating and a $83.00 target price on the stock. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company. Southwest Gas presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $81.86.

SWX stock traded up $0.94 during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $82.88. The company had a trading volume of 189,145 shares, compared to its average volume of 239,029. The company has a market cap of $4.16 billion, a PE ratio of 22.52, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.23 and a beta of 0.35. Southwest Gas has a 1-year low of $62.53 and a 1-year high of $85.97. The company has a quick ratio of 1.01, a current ratio of 1.01 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.09.

Southwest Gas (NYSE:SWX) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 27th. The utilities provider reported $1.36 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.53 by ($0.17). The company had revenue of $786.65 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $375.47 million. Southwest Gas had a net margin of 7.39% and a return on equity of 10.01%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm earned $2.00 EPS. On average, analysts anticipate that Southwest Gas will post 3.89 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, June 3rd. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, May 15th will be given a $0.545 dividend. This represents a $2.18 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.63%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, May 14th. This is a boost from Southwest Gas’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.52. Southwest Gas’s payout ratio is currently 56.52%.

A number of institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in SWX. FMR LLC grew its position in Southwest Gas by 124.5% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 1,059,753 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $81,072,000 after acquiring an additional 587,738 shares during the last quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. grew its position in Southwest Gas by 60.2% in the third quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 1,104,381 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $87,279,000 after acquiring an additional 414,823 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in Southwest Gas by 6.4% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 6,235,560 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $477,022,000 after acquiring an additional 374,766 shares during the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. grew its position in Southwest Gas by 59.5% in the fourth quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 935,646 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $71,577,000 after acquiring an additional 348,953 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Cohen & Steers Inc. grew its position in Southwest Gas by 21.2% in the fourth quarter. Cohen & Steers Inc. now owns 994,512 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $76,080,000 after acquiring an additional 173,939 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 84.41% of the company’s stock.

Southwest Gas Company Profile

Southwest Gas Holdings, Inc, through its subsidiaries, purchases, distributes, and transports natural gas in Arizona, Nevada, and California. The company operates through Natural Gas Operations and Construction Services segments. As of December 31, 2017, it had 2,015,000 residential, commercial, industrial, and other natural gas customers.

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