Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.
According to Zacks, “Shares of Norfolk Southern have outperformed its industry in the last six months. The company expects intermodal and merchandise networks to drive growth going forward. It is looking to cut costs in order to drive the bottom line. Norfolk Southern aims to achieve an operating ratio of below 65% by 2020 or even earlier. The company also has an impressive track recrd with respect to dividends. Its decision taken in January, to increase quarterly dividend payout by 18% is encouraging. Automotive volume, however, is likely to struggle going forward due to sluggish vehicle production in the United States. The company's high debt levels are another cause of concern. Notably, the company exited 2017 with long-term debt of more than $9.1 billion. “
A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. JPMorgan Chase & Co. reduced their target price on shares of Norfolk Southern from $154.00 to $151.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research report on Thursday, January 25th. Scotiabank raised shares of Norfolk Southern from a sector perform rating to a buy rating and set a $165.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Friday, January 12th. Loop Capital cut shares of Norfolk Southern from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $133.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, November 27th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $156.00 price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern in a research report on Monday, January 8th. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Norfolk Southern from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have issued a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $140.15.
Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, January 24th. The railroad operator reported $1.69 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.56 by $0.13. The company had revenue of $2.67 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.66 billion. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 51.22% and a return on equity of 14.16%. Norfolk Southern’s quarterly revenue was up 7.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $1.42 earnings per share. sell-side analysts forecast that Norfolk Southern will post 8.43 EPS for the current year.
The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, March 10th. Stockholders of record on Friday, February 2nd were issued a $0.72 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 1st. This represents a $2.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.02%. This is a boost from Norfolk Southern’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.61. Norfolk Southern’s dividend payout ratio is 15.38%.
In other news, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 467 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, February 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $150.17, for a total value of $70,129.39. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now owns 5,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $750,850. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 1,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $142.90, for a total transaction of $142,900.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 13,166 shares of company stock valued at $1,958,040 in the last three months. Company insiders own 0.36% of the company’s stock.
Several institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Somerset Trust Co increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.4% in the fourth quarter. Somerset Trust Co now owns 14,222 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $2,061,000 after buying an additional 338 shares during the period. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank now owns 63,624 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $9,219,000 after buying an additional 345 shares during the period. HM Payson & Co. increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern by 2.2% in the fourth quarter. HM Payson & Co. now owns 17,088 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $2,476,000 after buying an additional 363 shares during the period. United Bank increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern by 3.9% in the fourth quarter. United Bank now owns 9,708 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $1,407,000 after buying an additional 365 shares during the period. Finally, First Allied Advisory Services Inc. increased its stake in shares of Norfolk Southern by 7.6% in the fourth quarter. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. now owns 5,386 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $781,000 after buying an additional 379 shares during the period. 72.50% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.
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Norfolk Southern Company Profile
Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated approximately 19,500 miles of road primarily in the East and Midwest. The Company is engaged in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished goods primarily in the Southeast, East and Midwest.
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