Avista (NYSE:AVA) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Avista (NYSE:AVA) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $54.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Avista Corporation is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is its operating division that provides electric service customers and natural gas customers. Its service territory covers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon. Alaska Energy and Resources Company is an Avista subsidiary that provides retail electric service in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, through its subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company. “

AVA has been the subject of a number of other reports. Williams Capital cut Avista from a hold rating to a sell rating and raised their target price for the company from $41.00 to $42.00 in a report on Monday, September 16th. ValuEngine upgraded Avista from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Tuesday, July 2nd. TheStreet upgraded Avista from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a report on Monday, June 10th. Finally, KeyCorp restated an underweight rating and set a $35.00 target price on shares of Avista in a report on Wednesday, June 5th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Avista presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $42.40.

Shares of Avista stock opened at $47.88 on Tuesday. The business has a 50-day moving average of $46.74 and a 200 day moving average of $43.80. Avista has a 12 month low of $39.75 and a 12 month high of $52.70. The stock has a market capitalization of $3.17 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.69, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 7.33 and a beta of 0.38. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.93, a current ratio of 0.52 and a quick ratio of 0.39.

Avista (NYSE:AVA) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, August 7th. The utilities provider reported $0.38 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.35 by $0.03. Avista had a return on equity of 6.35% and a net margin of 14.43%. The company had revenue of $300.81 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $315.08 million. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.39 EPS. Equities research analysts anticipate that Avista will post 1.98 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 13th. Investors of record on Thursday, August 22nd were issued a dividend of $0.387 per share. This represents a $1.55 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.23%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, August 21st. Avista’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 73.46%.

In other Avista news, Director R John Taylor sold 1,438 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $46.78, for a total value of $67,269.64. Following the sale, the director now owns 423 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $19,787.94. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, VP James M. Kensok sold 760 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $46.95, for a total value of $35,682.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 8,649 shares in the company, valued at approximately $406,070.55. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 8,698 shares of company stock valued at $407,282 over the last 90 days. 1.10% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Swiss National Bank raised its position in Avista by 2.2% in the 2nd quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 122,300 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $5,455,000 after purchasing an additional 2,600 shares in the last quarter. Royce & Associates LP acquired a new stake in Avista in the 1st quarter valued at about $447,000. Laurion Capital Management LP raised its position in Avista by 418.4% in the 1st quarter. Laurion Capital Management LP now owns 42,931 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $1,744,000 after purchasing an additional 34,650 shares in the last quarter. Trexquant Investment LP acquired a new stake in Avista in the 2nd quarter valued at about $1,035,000. Finally, Nisa Investment Advisors LLC raised its position in Avista by 6.5% in the 2nd quarter. Nisa Investment Advisors LLC now owns 111,750 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $4,984,000 after purchasing an additional 6,800 shares in the last quarter. 79.65% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Avista

Avista Corporation operates as an electric and natural gas utility company. It operates through two segments, Avista Utilities and AEL&P. The Avista Utilities segment provides electric distribution and transmission, and natural gas distribution services in parts of eastern Washington and northern Idaho; and natural gas distribution services in parts of northeastern and southwestern Oregon, as well as generates electricity in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana.

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