Avista (NYSE:AVA) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Avista (NYSE:AVA) from a strong sell rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports.

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. “

A number of other equities analysts also recently weighed in on AVA. TheStreet downgraded shares of Worthington Industries from a b- rating to a c+ rating in a research note on Monday, June 10th. KeyCorp reaffirmed an overweight rating and issued a $46.00 target price on shares of FirstEnergy in a research note on Wednesday, June 5th. ValuEngine downgraded shares of Zumiez from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 2nd. Finally, Bank of America started coverage on shares of Coty in a research note on Thursday, May 9th. They issued a neutral rating and a $12.00 target price for the company. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the company. Avista has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $39.25.

Shares of AVA stock opened at $45.26 on Tuesday. Avista has a 12-month low of $39.75 and a 12-month high of $52.70. The company has a market cap of $2.95 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.45, a P/E/G ratio of 7.22 and a beta of 0.43. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $43.68. The company has a quick ratio of 0.54, a current ratio of 0.64 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.94.

Avista (NYSE:AVA) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, May 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.52 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.83 by ($0.31). Avista had a return on equity of 6.48% and a net margin of 14.26%. The company had revenue of $377.70 million during the quarter. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $0.83 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was down 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, equities research analysts predict that Avista will post 1.9 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 14th. Stockholders of record on Thursday, May 23rd were given a dividend of $0.3875 per share. This represents a $1.55 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.42%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, May 22nd. Avista’s dividend payout ratio is 73.46%.

In other news, Director Heidi B. Stanley sold 2,000 shares of Avista stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, May 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.92, for a total transaction of $83,840.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 12,291 shares in the company, valued at approximately $515,238.72. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Jason R. Thackston sold 1,250 shares of Avista stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, May 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.58, for a total transaction of $54,475.00. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 23,952 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,043,828.16. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders have sold 37,986 shares of company stock valued at $1,672,624. 1.10% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of AVA. NumerixS Investment Technologies Inc acquired a new position in Avista during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $26,000. WP Advisors LLC acquired a new position in Avista during the first quarter valued at approximately $26,000. Private Capital Group LLC grew its holdings in Avista by 1,179.2% during the first quarter. Private Capital Group LLC now owns 985 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $40,000 after purchasing an additional 908 shares during the period. Legg Mason Asset Management Japan Co. Ltd. acquired a new position in Avista during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $56,000. Finally, Quadrant Capital Group LLC grew its holdings in Avista by 1,041.4% during the first quarter. Quadrant Capital Group LLC now owns 2,123 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $84,000 after purchasing an additional 1,937 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 78.60% of the company’s stock.

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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