Xcel Energy (XEL) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued on Friday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “In the first quarter, Xcel Energy’s earnings were in line with estimates and revenues were better than expected. The company gained from higher electric and natural gas margin, courtesy of regulatory rate outcomes and favorable weather. However, the company’s high debt level as well as increasing O&M and interest expenses is a concern The company's debt/capital ratio is currently higher than the industry average. Never the less in the past 12 months, Xcel Energy's shares have outperformed the industry. The company is poised to gain from long-term investment plans, renewable generation and improving economic conditions in its service territories. The company plans to reduce carbon emission in the generation portfolio to 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The company aims to boost shareholders’ value by increasing dividend rate by 5-7% annually.”

Separately, Wolfe Research set a $57.00 target price on Xcel Energy and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, April 26th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $53.14.

Shares of NYSE XEL traded up $0.69 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $58.42. 226,235 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 3,310,834. Xcel Energy has a 52 week low of $41.99 and a 52 week high of $57.92.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) last released its earnings results on Thursday, April 25th. The utilities provider reported $0.61 EPS for the quarter, hitting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.61. The business had revenue of $3.14 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.11 billion. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.57 earnings per share.

In related news, SVP Judy M. Poferl sold 8,953 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, March 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $55.86, for a total value of $500,114.58. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 8,855 shares in the company, valued at approximately $494,640.30. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Chairman Benjamin G. S. Fowke III sold 75,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, March 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $55.13, for a total value of $4,134,750.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.22% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of XEL. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in Xcel Energy by 6.9% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 47,113,265 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $2,321,271,000 after purchasing an additional 3,053,820 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund grew its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 4,766.3% in the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 2,702,706 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $55,000 after acquiring an additional 2,647,167 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 6.1% in the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 39,118,840 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $2,198,871,000 after acquiring an additional 2,250,610 shares during the last quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. grew its stake in shares of Xcel Energy by 30.5% in the first quarter. Pictet Asset Management Ltd. now owns 4,545,636 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $255,510,000 after acquiring an additional 1,062,141 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Banco Santander S.A. purchased a new stake in shares of Xcel Energy in the first quarter worth $55,146,000. 73.96% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc is a public utility holding company. The Company’s operations include the activity of four utility subsidiaries that serve electric and natural gas customers in eight states. The Company’s segments include regulated electric utility, regulated natural gas utility and all other. The Company’s utility subsidiaries include NSP-Minnesota, NSP-Wisconsin, Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) and Southwestern Public Service Co (SPS), which serve customers in portions of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

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