Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Williams Companies is known for its attractive exposure to the nation's natural gas supply growth through its large-scale value-creating projects. In particular, the company's existing and expansionary projects on Transco pipeline bode well. Robust cash flows and investor friendly moves further buoys optimism surrounding the stock. Further, Williams Companies' recent strategy of acquiring its midstream arm bode well. WMB's recent JV deal with Brazos Midstream is also set to unlock additional value to the company. However, the company's high leverage metrics restrict its financial flexibility. Add to that, the regulatory setbacks suffered by its Constitution Pipeline project are reasons to worry. Hence, investors are advised to wait for a better entry point before buying shares in Williams.”

A number of other equities analysts have also commented on WMB. ValuEngine lowered shares of Williams Companies from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Tuesday, November 6th. Mizuho assumed coverage on shares of Williams Companies in a research note on Wednesday, November 28th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $32.00 price objective for the company. Goldman Sachs Group assumed coverage on shares of Williams Companies in a research note on Monday, October 8th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $26.00 price objective for the company. Bank of America decreased their price objective on shares of Williams Companies from $38.00 to $33.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, November 2nd. Finally, Seaport Global Securities assumed coverage on shares of Williams Companies in a research note on Friday, October 19th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $31.00 price objective for the company. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $32.71.

Williams Companies stock traded up $0.27 during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $25.31. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 4,175,118 shares, compared to its average volume of 10,630,670. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.27, a quick ratio of 0.66 and a current ratio of 0.72. The firm has a market cap of $30.45 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 40.18, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 4.01 and a beta of 1.50. Williams Companies has a twelve month low of $20.36 and a twelve month high of $33.67.

Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 31st. The pipeline company reported $0.24 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.20 by $0.04. Williams Companies had a net margin of 24.15% and a return on equity of 4.44%. The firm had revenue of $2.30 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.16 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $0.04 earnings per share. As a group, equities analysts predict that Williams Companies will post 0.76 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, Director Michael A. Creel bought 25,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, November 2nd. The stock was bought at an average price of $25.77 per share, with a total value of $644,250.00. Following the purchase, the director now directly owns 20,907 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $538,773.39. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, SVP Terrance Lane Wilson bought 1,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, November 2nd. The shares were bought at an average cost of $25.75 per share, with a total value of $25,750.00. Following the purchase, the senior vice president now directly owns 17,844 shares in the company, valued at $459,483. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders have acquired a total of 38,500 shares of company stock valued at $993,625 in the last three months. Company insiders own 0.50% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 57.4% in the 3rd quarter. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. now owns 169,411 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $4,607,000 after purchasing an additional 61,772 shares during the last quarter. State Treasurer State of Michigan lifted its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 47.0% in the 3rd quarter. State Treasurer State of Michigan now owns 360,386 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $9,799,000 after purchasing an additional 115,300 shares during the last quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC lifted its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 3.7% in the 3rd quarter. Neuberger Berman Group LLC now owns 6,493,691 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $176,563,000 after purchasing an additional 234,071 shares during the last quarter. Hallmark Capital Management Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Williams Companies in the 3rd quarter valued at $381,000. Finally, Swiss National Bank lifted its stake in shares of Williams Companies by 41.2% in the 3rd quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 3,861,641 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $104,998,000 after purchasing an additional 1,126,400 shares during the last quarter. 91.17% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Williams Companies

The Williams Companies, Inc operates as an energy infrastructure company primarily in the United States. It owns and operates natural gas pipeline system extending from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey to the New York City metropolitan area.

See Also: Understanding the different types of bonds

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on Williams Companies (WMB)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB)

Receive News & Ratings for Williams Companies Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Williams Companies and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.