Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday. The brokerage currently has $41.00 price target on the utilities provider’s stock.
According to Zacks, “Aqua America’s shares have gained higher than the industry in the last 12 months. Aqua America has expanded its customer base through acquisitions during the first nine months of 2017. It aims to increase its customer level by 1.5-2% in 2017 through strategic acquisitions and organic initiatives. Rate hikes are boosting its earnings and the company is continuing with its infrastructural strengthening initiatives. The company aims to make capital investments of over $450 million in 2017, which is part of an ambitious investment target of more than $1.2 billion in the 2017-2019 period. Aqua America, like other water utilities runs the risk of contamination of water sources, which could raise its operating costs while fluctuating weather conditions might dampen demand for water.”
Several other research firms have also issued reports on WTR. Robert W. Baird reissued a hold rating and set a $32.00 target price on shares of Aqua America in a report on Sunday, October 1st. Barclays increased their target price on Aqua America from $36.00 to $38.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a report on Friday, September 22nd. Boenning Scattergood restated a buy rating and set a $43.00 price objective on shares of Aqua America in a research report on Wednesday, November 1st. Wells Fargo & Co upgraded Aqua America from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $40.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Thursday, October 19th. Finally, Argus upped their price objective on Aqua America from $37.00 to $41.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 13th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $39.17.
Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, October 31st. The utilities provider reported $0.43 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.43. The company had revenue of $215.01 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $234.40 million. Aqua America had a return on equity of 12.49% and a net margin of 29.38%. Aqua America’s quarterly revenue was down 5.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.41 EPS. equities analysts anticipate that Aqua America will post 1.36 EPS for the current year.
In related news, VP David Smeltzer sold 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $36.36, for a total transaction of $363,600.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 71,397 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,595,994.92. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Over the last 90 days, insiders have purchased 70,500 shares of company stock valued at $8,475. 0.25% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.
Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in WTR. Investment Centers of America Inc. raised its position in Aqua America by 0.4% in the second quarter. Investment Centers of America Inc. now owns 7,009 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $233,000 after purchasing an additional 27 shares during the last quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. raised its position in Aqua America by 0.8% in the second quarter. Suntrust Banks Inc. now owns 18,574 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $618,000 after purchasing an additional 154 shares during the last quarter. ELCO Management Co. LLC raised its position in Aqua America by 1.5% in the second quarter. ELCO Management Co. LLC now owns 11,056 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $368,000 after purchasing an additional 166 shares during the last quarter. M&T Bank Corp raised its position in Aqua America by 0.4% in the second quarter. M&T Bank Corp now owns 97,344 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $3,241,000 after purchasing an additional 380 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Advisor Group Inc. raised its position in Aqua America by 3.9% in the second quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 21,504 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $696,000 after purchasing an additional 799 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 51.66% of the company’s stock.
About Aqua America
Aqua America, Inc is a holding company. The Company is engaged in providing water or wastewater services concentrated in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia. The Company is the holding company for its primary subsidiary, Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc Its market-based activities are conducted through Aqua Resources, Inc (Aqua Resources) and Aqua Infrastructure, LLC (Aqua Infrastructure).
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