Norfolk Southern Co. (NYSE:NSC) Receives Average “Buy” Rating from Analysts

Shares of Norfolk Southern Co. (NYSE: NSC – Get a rating) have been given an average rating of “Buy” by the twenty-one brokerages that currently cover the business, reports Marketbeat Ratings. One analyst rated the stock with a sell recommendation, six gave the company a hold recommendation and eleven gave the company a buy recommendation. The 12-month average target price among brokerages that have covered the stock over the past year is $310.26.

The NSC has been the subject of several research reports. StockNews.com launched a hedge on Norfolk Southern shares in a research report on Thursday, March 31. They have set a “holding” rating on the stock. Susquehanna Bancshares lowered its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $356.00 to $350.00 in a Thursday, April 7 research report. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Norfolk Southern shares from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a price target of $299.00 on the stock in a Tuesday, March 29 research report. Susquehanna lowered its price target on Norfolk Southern shares from $356.00 to $350.00 and rated the stock “positive” in a Thursday, April 7 research report. Finally, Stephens downgraded Norfolk Southern shares from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and lowered his price target for the company from $325.00 to $310.00 in a research report from the Tuesday, January 4.

Separately, Chairman Alan H. Shaw sold 1,000 shares of the company in a trade dated Tuesday, March 1. The shares were sold at an average price of $256.70, for a total transaction of $256,700.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, accessible via this link. Also, CEO James A. Squires sold 62,880 shares of the company in a transaction dated Friday, January 28. The shares were sold at an average price of $269.36, for a total transaction of $16,937,356.80. Disclosure of this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 64,580 shares of the company valued at $17,379,914 over the past three months. 0.31% of the shares are currently held by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Naples Global Advisors LLC increased its holdings of Norfolk Southern shares by 1.3% during the third quarter. Naples Global Advisors LLC now owns 10,131 shares of the train operator worth $2,424,000 after buying 126 additional shares during the period. Telemus Capital LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Norfolk Southern during Q3 for a value of approximately $213,000. Ziegler Capital Management LLC increased its holdings of Norfolk Southern shares by 9.0% during the third quarter. Ziegler Capital Management LLC now owns 4,340 shares of the train operator worth $1,038,000 after buying 360 additional shares during the period. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. increased its holdings of Norfolk Southern shares by 2.1% during the third quarter. YHB Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 2,034 shares of the train operator worth $487,000 after buying 41 additional shares during the period. Finally, SignalPoint Asset Management LLC purchased a new stake in Norfolk Southern stock during Q3 worth approximately $1,060,000. 72.91% of the shares are held by institutional investors.

NSC stock opened at $263.06 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.86, a quick ratio of 0.77 and a debt ratio of 0.97. Norfolk Southern has a 12-month low of $238.62 and a 12-month high of $299.20. The company’s 50-day moving average is $269.50 and its two-hundred-day moving average is $275.60. The stock has a market capitalization of $63.08 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.70, a PEG ratio of 1.83 and a beta of 1.38.

South Norfolk (NYSE: NSC – Get a rating) last announced its results on Wednesday, January 26. The rail operator reported earnings per share (EPS) of $3.12 for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of $3.04 by $0.08. The company posted revenue of $2.85 billion for the quarter, versus analyst estimates of $2.82 billion. Norfolk Southern had a net margin of 26.97% and a return on equity of 21.28%. The company’s revenue for the quarter increased by 9.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the company posted earnings per share of $2.64. On average, equity research analysts expect Norfolk Southern to post 13.72 earnings per share for the current year.

Norfolk Southern said its board authorized a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, March 29 that sees the company repurchase $10.00 billion worth of stock. This repurchase authorization allows the rail operator to buy up to 14.6% of its shares through purchases on the open market. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that a company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, February 21. Investors of record on Friday, February 4 received a dividend of $1.24. This is an increase from Norfolk Southern’s previous quarterly dividend of $1.09. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, February 3. This represents an annualized dividend of $4.96 and a yield of 1.89%. Norfolk Southern’s payout ratio is currently 40.92%.

About South Norfolk (Get a rating)

Norfolk Southern Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, is involved in the rail transportation of raw materials, intermediate products and finished products in the United States. The company transports agricultural, forestry and consumer products including soybeans, wheat, corn, fertilizers, livestock and poultry feed, foodstuffs, edible oils, flour, sweeteners, ethanol, wood and wood products, pulp boards and paper products, wood fibers, wood pulp, scrap paper, beverages, canned goods and consumer products; chemicals include sulfur and related chemicals, petroleum products, chlorine and bleach compounds, plastics, rubber, industrial chemicals, chemical waste and sand; metals and building materials, such as steel, aluminum products, machinery, scrap metal, cement, aggregates, minerals, clay, transportation equipment, and military-related products ; and automotive, including finished motor vehicles and auto parts, as well as coal.

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