Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) to Hold

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMBGet Rating) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. They currently have a $40.00 price objective on the pipeline company’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 6.38% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “With U.S. natural gas demand projected to grow significantly in the long term, The Williams Companies seems to be well positioned to capitalize on the same owing to its impressive portfolio of large-scale value creating projects. The firm’s attractive exposure to the nation's natural gas supply growth also bodes well for the energy infrastructure provider. Williams’ thriving deepwater transportation business and its attractive dividend yield are other positives. However, the company's high leverage metrics restricts its financial flexibility. The closure of the Constitution Pipeline project is also a cause of concern. Further, exposure to volume-driven nonregulated business can limit the company’s earnings. Consequently, the energy infrastructure warrants a cautious stance from investors for the time being.”

Other analysts have also issued research reports about the company. Wells Fargo & Company lowered their target price on Williams Companies from $40.00 to $39.00 and set an “overweight” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, May 20th. Mizuho raised their target price on Williams Companies from $35.00 to $39.00 in a report on Wednesday, May 4th. Stifel Nicolaus raised their target price on Williams Companies from $31.00 to $34.00 and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Tuesday, March 1st. US Capital Advisors reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Williams Companies in a research report on Wednesday, June 1st. Finally, Morgan Stanley raised their price objective on Williams Companies from $34.00 to $40.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Tuesday, April 26th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, nine have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. According to MarketBeat, Williams Companies currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $35.86.

WMB stock traded up $0.19 during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $37.60. The stock had a trading volume of 82,536 shares, compared to its average volume of 7,729,653. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.69 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.49. Williams Companies has a 1-year low of $23.53 and a 1-year high of $37.97. The company has a fifty day moving average of $35.27 and a 200 day moving average of $31.34. The stock has a market capitalization of $45.80 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 31.36, a PEG ratio of 6.91 and a beta of 1.16.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMBGet Rating) last issued its earnings results on Monday, May 2nd. The pipeline company reported $0.41 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.36 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $2.52 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $3.19 billion. Williams Companies had a return on equity of 12.20% and a net margin of 13.95%. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.35 EPS. As a group, sell-side analysts expect that Williams Companies will post 1.55 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, SVP Scott A. Hallam sold 15,607 shares of Williams Companies stock in a transaction on Wednesday, April 6th. The stock was sold at an average price of $33.30, for a total value of $519,713.10. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 164,054 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,462,998.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. 0.43% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Schroder Investment Management Group lifted its holdings in Williams Companies by 14.2% during the third quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group now owns 140,487 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $3,644,000 after acquiring an additional 17,431 shares in the last quarter. Louisiana State Employees Retirement System lifted its holdings in Williams Companies by 0.7% during the fourth quarter. Louisiana State Employees Retirement System now owns 76,100 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $1,982,000 after acquiring an additional 500 shares in the last quarter. Ritholtz Wealth Management lifted its holdings in Williams Companies by 13.7% during the fourth quarter. Ritholtz Wealth Management now owns 16,808 shares of the pipeline company’s stock worth $438,000 after acquiring an additional 2,021 shares in the last quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Williams Companies by 3,402.2% in the fourth quarter. Benjamin F. Edwards & Company Inc. now owns 6,514 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $170,000 after purchasing an additional 6,328 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Ensign Peak Advisors Inc lifted its holdings in shares of Williams Companies by 143.8% in the fourth quarter. Ensign Peak Advisors Inc now owns 419,696 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $10,928,000 after purchasing an additional 247,533 shares in the last quarter. 86.10% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Williams Companies (Get Rating)

The Williams Companies, Inc, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an energy infrastructure company primarily in the United States. It operates through Transmission & Gulf of Mexico, Northeast G&P, West, and Gas & NGL Marketing Services segments. The Transmission & Gulf of Mexico segment comprises Transco and Northwest natural gas pipelines; and natural gas gathering and processing, and crude oil production handling and transportation assets in the Gulf Coast region, as well as various petrochemical and feedstock pipelines.

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