Avista (NYSE:AVA) Raised to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Avista (NYSE:AVA) from a strong sell rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Avista Corporation is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is its operating division that provides electric service customers and natural gas customers. Its service territory covers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon. Alaska Energy and Resources Company is an Avista subsidiary that provides retail electric service in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, through its subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company. “

A number of other research firms have also recently weighed in on AVA. Bank of America started coverage on shares of Coty in a research note on Thursday, May 9th. They set a neutral rating and a $12.00 target price on the stock. ValuEngine cut shares of Zumiez from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 2nd. TheStreet cut shares of Worthington Industries from a b- rating to a c+ rating in a research note on Monday, June 10th. Finally, KeyCorp reaffirmed an overweight rating and set a $46.00 target price on shares of FirstEnergy in a research note on Wednesday, June 5th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company. Avista currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $39.25.

Shares of AVA opened at $45.33 on Tuesday. Avista has a one year low of $39.75 and a one year high of $52.70. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.98 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.48, a P/E/G ratio of 7.28 and a beta of 0.43. The company has a current ratio of 0.64, a quick ratio of 0.54 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.94. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $43.74.

Avista (NYSE:AVA) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, May 2nd. The utilities provider reported $0.52 EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.83 by ($0.31). Avista had a net margin of 14.26% and a return on equity of 6.48%. The firm had revenue of $377.70 million for the quarter. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $0.83 EPS. Avista’s quarterly revenue was down 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts expect that Avista will post 1.9 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 14th. Investors of record on Thursday, May 23rd were paid a $0.3875 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, May 22nd. This represents a $1.55 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.42%. Avista’s dividend payout ratio is 73.46%.

In related news, VP Kevin J. Christie sold 780 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, May 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.78, for a total value of $32,588.40. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 9,229 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $385,587.62. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, SVP Jason R. Thackston sold 1,250 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, May 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.58, for a total transaction of $54,475.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 23,952 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,043,828.16. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 37,986 shares of company stock worth $1,672,624. 1.10% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of AVA. Acadian Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Avista in the first quarter worth $40,892,000. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in shares of Avista by 8.1% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 12,524,697 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $508,754,000 after purchasing an additional 938,978 shares during the last quarter. Deprince Race & Zollo Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Avista in the first quarter worth $27,001,000. Norges Bank bought a new stake in shares of Avista in the fourth quarter worth $25,267,000. Finally, FMR LLC grew its stake in shares of Avista by 197.6% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 425,616 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $18,080,000 after purchasing an additional 282,593 shares during the last quarter. 78.60% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Avista

Avista Corporation operates as an electric and natural gas utility company. It operates through two segments, Avista Utilities and AEL&P. The Avista Utilities segment provides electric distribution and transmission, and natural gas distribution services in parts of eastern Washington and northern Idaho; and natural gas distribution services in parts of northeastern and southwestern Oregon, as well as generates electricity in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana.

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