Norfolk Southern (NSC) Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Norfolk Southern is gaining from volume growth, which expanded 4% in 2018. Despite headwinds like foul weather, we expect volumes to increase in the first quarter of 2019 as well. Results will be out on Apr 24. The company’s efforts to reward its shareholders through dividends and buybacks are an added positive. In January, it announced a 7.5% increase in its quarterly dividend. The latest hike denotes the third quarterly dividend increase by this railroad operator in the last 10 months. Improvement in operating ratio is also encouraging. The company, which implemented the precision scheduled railroading model to improve efficiencies earlier this year, aims at a full-year operating ratio of 60% by 2021. Revenues are anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5% through 2021.  However, its automotive division performed disappointingly in 2018. The situation is unlikely to improve dramatically in the near future.”

Other analysts have also issued reports about the stock. Argus restated a buy rating on shares of Norfolk Southern in a research note on Thursday, January 3rd. TD Securities raised their price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern from $180.00 to $185.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, January 25th. Loop Capital raised their price objective on shares of Norfolk Southern to $197.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, January 25th. UBS Group lifted their price target on shares of Norfolk Southern from $190.00 to $202.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, February 12th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of Norfolk Southern from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, February 12th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $190.47.

NYSE:NSC opened at $193.22 on Tuesday. The stock has a market cap of $51.81 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.32, a PEG ratio of 1.64 and a beta of 1.43. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.69, a current ratio of 0.72 and a quick ratio of 0.64. Norfolk Southern has a fifty-two week low of $133.47 and a fifty-two week high of $196.57.

Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 24th. The railroad operator reported $2.57 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.30 by $0.27. The business had revenue of $2.90 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.85 billion. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 23.27% and a return on equity of 16.71%. Norfolk Southern’s revenue was up 8.5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.69 EPS. Equities research analysts expect that Norfolk Southern will post 10.43 earnings per share for the current year.

In related news, COO Michael Joseph Wheeler sold 4,761 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, February 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $180.23, for a total transaction of $858,075.03. Following the completion of the sale, the chief operating officer now directly owns 19,724 shares in the company, valued at $3,554,856.52. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, VP Jason Andrew Zampi sold 519 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, February 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $181.34, for a total transaction of $94,115.46. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.19% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Bruderman Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $26,000. Intercontinental Wealth Advisors LLC purchased a new position in Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $27,000. Moody National Bank Trust Division purchased a new position in Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $31,000. Pinnacle Bank purchased a new position in Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $33,000. Finally, PRW Wealth Management LLC purchased a new position in Norfolk Southern during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $36,000. Institutional investors own 74.39% of the company’s stock.

Norfolk Southern Company Profile

Norfolk Southern Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products, and finished goods. The company transports industrial products, including chemicals, agriculture, and metals and construction materials; and coal, automobiles, and automotive parts.

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