Aqua America Inc. (WTR) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Hold

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Aqua America Inc. (NYSE:WTR) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Aqua America’s extensive network of water and wastewater systems, continuous investments in regulated assets will help it to provide high quality and reliable water services to its expanding customer base. The company is also gaining from constructive rate decisions in different states it operates. The company pushes forward on its inorganic growth strategy to increase its customer base and expand service territories. However, Aqua America Inc. runs an inherent risk of contamination of water sources, which could raise its operating costs and fluctuating weather conditions can lower the demand for water. In addition, securing essential funds for growth projects at a favorable rate could pose challenges for this capital intensive utility. “

WTR has been the subject of several other reports. Hilliard Lyons reaffirmed an underperform rating and set a $27.00 target price on shares of Aqua America in a research note on Wednesday, September 14th. Barclays PLC cut their target price on shares of Aqua America from $38.00 to $34.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a research note on Tuesday, September 6th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $32.71.

Shares of Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) traded down 0.54% during trading on Wednesday, hitting $31.14. 66,466 shares of the stock traded hands. Aqua America has a 12 month low of $26.20 and a 12 month high of $35.83. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $31.12 and its 200-day moving average price is $32.44. The stock has a market cap of $5.52 billion, a PE ratio of 26.62 and a beta of 0.42.

Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company reported $0.33 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.33. The firm earned $203.88 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $209.61 million. Aqua America had a net margin of 25.44% and a return on equity of 13.05%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down .9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.32 earnings per share. Analysts anticipate that Aqua America will post $1.33 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 1st. Shareholders of record on Thursday, August 18th were paid a $0.1913 dividend. This is a boost from Aqua America’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.18. This represents a $0.77 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.44%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, August 16th. Aqua America’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 66.38%.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. raised its stake in Aqua America by 0.5% in the second quarter. Thompson Davis & CO. Inc. now owns 3,327 shares of the company’s stock valued at $119,000 after buying an additional 17 shares during the period. Whittier Trust Co. raised its stake in Aqua America by 3.1% in the second quarter. Whittier Trust Co. now owns 3,952 shares of the company’s stock valued at $141,000 after buying an additional 120 shares during the period. Arcadia Investment Management Corp MI raised its stake in Aqua America by 5.1% in the second quarter. Arcadia Investment Management Corp MI now owns 4,150 shares of the company’s stock valued at $148,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the period. Tuttle Tactical Management LLC raised its stake in Aqua America by 0.5% in the second quarter. Tuttle Tactical Management LLC now owns 5,736 shares of the company’s stock valued at $197,000 after buying an additional 31 shares during the period. Finally, EagleClaw Capital Managment LLC purchased a new stake in Aqua America during the first quarter valued at about $202,000. 47.76% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Aqua America

Aqua America, Inc is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides water or wastewater services in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia, among others. It is the holding company for its subsidiary, Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc Its market-based activities are conducted through Aqua Resources Inc and Aqua Infrastructure, LLC.

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