Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Westar Energy Inc (NYSE:WR) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Saturday.

According to Zacks, “Westar Energy, Inc. is Kansas’ largest electric utility. Westar has 7,200 MW of electric generation capacity fueled by coal, uranium, natural gas, wind and landfill gas. They are a leader in electric transmission in Kansas. Their innovative customer service programs include mobile-enabled customer care, digital meters and paving the way for electric vehicle adoption. “

Shares of Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) traded up 0.28% on Friday, reaching $51.01. 2,118,506 shares of the company traded hands. Westar Energy has a 1-year low of $49.70 and a 1-year high of $57.50. The stock has a market capitalization of $7.25 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.99 and a beta of 0.38. The company has a 50-day moving average of $54.40 and a 200-day moving average of $55.51.

Westar Energy (NYSE:WR) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 22nd. The utilities provider reported $0.38 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.42 by $0.04. Westar Energy had a return on equity of 8.91% and a net margin of 13.27%. The firm had revenue of $606.53 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $578.83 million. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.28 earnings per share. Westar Energy’s revenue for the quarter was up 11.1% on a year-over-year basis. Analysts anticipate that Westar Energy will post $2.51 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, April 3rd. Stockholders of record on Thursday, March 9th were issued a dividend of $0.40 per share. This is a positive change from Westar Energy’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.38. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.15%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, March 7th. Westar Energy’s dividend payout ratio is presently 65.24%.

In other news, SVP Jerl L. Banning sold 1,850 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $54.61, for a total transaction of $101,028.50. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Corporate insiders own 0.61% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Washington Trust Bank raised its position in shares of Westar Energy by 792.5% in the first quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 2,365 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $128,000 after buying an additional 2,100 shares during the period. Advisory Services Network LLC raised its position in shares of Westar Energy by 6.2% in the third quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC now owns 2,761 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $157,000 after buying an additional 161 shares during the period. Global X Management Co. LLC raised its position in shares of Westar Energy by 53.3% in the third quarter. Global X Management Co. LLC now owns 3,142 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $178,000 after buying an additional 1,093 shares during the period. Sowell Financial Services LLC purchased a new position in shares of Westar Energy during the fourth quarter valued at $180,000. Finally, Shinko Asset Management Co. Ltd. increased its stake in Westar Energy by 911.6% in the third quarter. Shinko Asset Management Co. Ltd. now owns 3,662 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $208,000 after buying an additional 3,300 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.02% of the company’s stock.

Westar Energy Company Profile

Westar Energy, Inc is an electric utility. The Company provides electric generation, transmission and distribution services. The Company provides these services in central and northeastern Kansas, including the cities of Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan, Salina and Hutchinson. Its subsidiary, Kansas Gas and Electric Company (KGE), provides these services in south-central and southeastern Kansas, including the city of Wichita.

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