Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Wednesday. The brokerage currently has $106.00 price target on the railroad operator’s stock.
According to Zacks, “We are impressed by the company’s focus on rewarding shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. The company's cost-cutting efforts to drive the bottom-line is also encouraging. For 2016, the company is targeting productivity savings of at least $200 million and an operating ratio below 70%. Additionally, the inauguration of the expanded 102-year old Panama Canal might prove to be beneficial for the company due to the likely increase in container traffic at East Coast ports. However, concerns related to top line growth remain. Norfolk Southern’s top line growth has been impacted due to weak energy markets in the U.S. Coal shipments have continued to stay at low levels and a significant improvement seems unlikely. At a recent conference, the company mentioned that for coal volumes are expected to remain low for the second half of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.”
NSC has been the subject of several other reports. Citigroup Inc. boosted their price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. from $87.00 to $97.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 13th. Loop Capital restated a hold rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Friday, September 9th. Argus restated a buy rating on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, August 3rd. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. initiated coverage on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research report on Wednesday, June 15th. They set a market perform rating for the company. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG lowered their price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. from $99.00 to $97.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a research report on Thursday, July 28th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, fifteen have given a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $89.49.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) opened at 96.91 on Wednesday. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $92.82 and a 200-day moving average price of $87.77. Norfolk Southern Corp. has a 1-year low of $64.51 and a 1-year high of $98.75. The firm has a market cap of $28.45 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.15 and a beta of 1.27.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 27th. The railroad operator reported $1.36 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.01. Norfolk Southern Corp. had a net margin of 15.88% and a return on equity of 13.34%. The business earned $2.45 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.51 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.41 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was down 9.5% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts forecast that Norfolk Southern Corp. will post $5.45 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, September 10th. Shareholders of record on Monday, August 8th were given a $0.59 dividend. This represents a $2.36 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.44%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, August 4th. Norfolk Southern Corp.’s payout ratio is 44.19%.
In other Norfolk Southern Corp. news, VP James A. Hixon sold 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $94.15, for a total value of $941,500.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 129,074 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $12,152,317.10. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, VP Thomas E. Hurlbut sold 528 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $88.35, for a total transaction of $46,648.80. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 11,580 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,023,093. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.66% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.
Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Prudential Financial Inc. increased its position in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 0.5% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 375,954 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $31,298,000 after buying an additional 2,000 shares in the last quarter. Stratos Wealth Partners LTD. increased its position in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 9.7% in the first quarter. Stratos Wealth Partners LTD. now owns 7,760 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $646,000 after buying an additional 683 shares in the last quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. increased its position in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 3.4% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. now owns 465,824 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $38,780,000 after buying an additional 15,193 shares in the last quarter. Ngam Advisors L.P. increased its position in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 12.4% in the first quarter. Ngam Advisors L.P. now owns 29,867 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $2,487,000 after buying an additional 3,289 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Dubuque Bank & Trust Co. increased its position in Norfolk Southern Corp. by 98.4% in the first quarter. Dubuque Bank & Trust Co. now owns 54,177 shares of the railroad operator’s stock worth $4,510,000 after buying an additional 26,865 shares in the last quarter. 67.90% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
About Norfolk Southern Corp.
Norfolk Southern Corporation is a holding company engaged in the rail transportation business. The Company operates approximately 20,000 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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