Xcel Energy Inc (XEL) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Xcel Energy Inc (NYSE:XEL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $50.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price points to a potential upside of 11.61% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Xcel Energy’s long-term investment plans will strengthen its operations and help it to serve its expanding customer base in a more reliable and efficient manner. The company is also benefiting from improving economic conditions in its service territories. The utility has been consistently boosting dividends every year,raised dividend by 6.3% in 2016. The company is focused on expanding its renewable generation assets and lowering its carbon footprint. The current rate of return from the company’s share is higher compared with the return from the broader industry in the last six months. Xcel Energy's operation is subject to stringent environmental legislations which call for additional expenditures. Rising debt levels of Xcel Energy is a concern, in an interest hike environment, with its debt/capital ratio presently higher than the industry average.”

Several other brokerages have also recently weighed in on XEL. Jefferies Group LLC increased their price objective on shares of Xcel Energy from $44.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, March 23rd. Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $45.00 price objective on shares of Xcel Energy in a research note on Friday, March 17th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Xcel Energy currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $45.67.

Analyst Recommendations for Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL)

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) traded down 0.7728% on Tuesday, hitting $44.4538. 1,265,052 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. Xcel Energy has a 52-week low of $38.00 and a 52-week high of $45.42. The stock has a market cap of $22.55 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.1331 and a beta of 0.09. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $44.21 and a 200-day moving average price of $41.48.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, February 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.45 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.44 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $2.79 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.18 billion. Xcel Energy had a net margin of 10.11% and a return on equity of 10.41%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.41 EPS. Analysts predict that Xcel Energy will post $2.20 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, April 20th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, March 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.36 per share. This is a positive change from Xcel Energy’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.34. This represents a $1.44 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.21%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, March 13th. Xcel Energy’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 61.54%.

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In related news, Director James T. Prokopanko acquired 1,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, February 7th. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $41.45 per share, with a total value of $41,450.00. Following the acquisition, the director now directly owns 1,000 shares in the company, valued at approximately $41,450. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Company insiders own 0.20% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. State Street Corp raised its position in Xcel Energy by 0.6% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 25,503,216 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $1,037,982,000 after buying an additional 162,365 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC raised its position in Xcel Energy by 3.1% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 16,127,476 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $656,388,000 after buying an additional 485,164 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its position in Xcel Energy by 3.8% in the third quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 14,730,758 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $606,023,000 after buying an additional 545,498 shares during the last quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC raised its position in Xcel Energy by 9.9% in the third quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC now owns 5,866,295 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $241,339,000 after buying an additional 527,979 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp raised its position in Xcel Energy by 1.2% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 5,645,683 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $232,263,000 after buying an additional 64,193 shares during the last quarter. 70.91% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include the activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers in eight states. The Company’s segments include regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The Company’s utility subsidiaries include NSP-Minnesota, NSP-Wisconsin, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) and Southwestern Public Service Co (SPS), which serve customers in portions of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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