Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday.
According to Zacks, “We are impressed by Norfolk Southern’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.”
Other equities analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Citigroup Inc. restated a “hold” rating and issued a $87.00 price target on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research note on Friday, June 17th. Atlantic Securities began coverage on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research note on Thursday, August 11th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $104.00 price target for the company. BMO Capital Markets restated a “market perform” rating and issued a $93.00 price target on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. in a research note on Thursday, July 7th. Barclays PLC dropped their price target on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. from $104.00 to $92.00 and set an “equal weight” rating for the company in a research note on Monday, September 12th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group AG dropped their price target on shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. from $99.00 to $97.00 and set an “outperform” rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, July 28th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have given a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $89.49.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) opened at 97.45 on Wednesday. Norfolk Southern Corp. has a 52 week low of $64.51 and a 52 week high of $98.75. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $93.46 and a 200-day moving average price of $87.99. The stock has a market cap of $28.61 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.25 and a beta of 1.27.
Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 27th. The railroad operator reported $1.36 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.01. The business earned $2.45 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.51 billion. Norfolk Southern Corp. had a net margin of 15.88% and a return on equity of 13.34%. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 9.5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.41 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that Norfolk Southern Corp. will post $5.46 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Saturday, September 10th. Investors of record on Monday, August 8th were issued a dividend of $0.59 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, August 4th. This represents a $2.36 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.42%. Norfolk Southern Corp.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 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 transaction of $941,500.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 129,074 shares in the company, valued at $12,152,317.10. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. 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 transaction, the vice president now owns 11,580 shares in the company, valued at $1,023,093. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.66% of the company’s stock.
A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of NSC. Virginia Retirement System bought a new position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. during the first quarter valued at $1,635,000. Ngam Advisors L.P. raised its position in shares of 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 valued at $2,487,000 after buying an additional 3,289 shares during the last quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 3.4% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. now owns 465,824 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $38,780,000 after buying an additional 15,193 shares during the last quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 0.5% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 375,954 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $31,298,000 after buying an additional 2,000 shares during the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Group LTD raised its position in shares of Norfolk Southern Corp. by 6.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Group LTD now owns 2,388,201 shares of the railroad operator’s stock valued at $198,817,000 after buying an additional 154,424 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 67.90% of the company’s stock.
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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