Encana (ECA) Downgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Encana (NYSE:ECA) (TSE:ECA) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Encana’s shares have comfortably outperformed the Zacks Canadian E&P industry over the past year.  With oil prices picking pace, Encana's crude transition bodes well. Of late, Encana has successfully repositioned its asset base to four key growth areas namely Montney, Duvernay, Permian and Eagle Ford. Encana’s successful cost reduction initiatives are expected to further buoy the results and grow cash flow. However, service cost inflation is likely to dampen investors' confidence. Moreover, the company still produces a considerable amount of natural gas which is still trading around $3 per MMbtu. As such, shares of Encana are expected to perform in line with the broader market.”

Several other equities analysts have also issued reports on ECA. ValuEngine raised shares of Encana from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, June 27th. Canaccord Genuity reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $19.00 price target on shares of Encana in a report on Thursday, July 12th. Morgan Stanley set a $19.00 price target on shares of Encana and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Friday, October 12th. National Bank Financial cut their price target on shares of Encana from $22.00 to $21.00 and set an outperform rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, August 2nd. Finally, CIBC assumed coverage on shares of Encana in a report on Friday, October 5th. They issued a neutral rating on the stock. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and eighteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $16.53.

ECA stock traded up $0.08 during trading on Friday, hitting $11.19. 17,565,671 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 10,557,133. The company has a quick ratio of 0.73, a current ratio of 0.73 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. Encana has a 1 year low of $9.79 and a 1 year high of $14.31. The firm has a market cap of $10.58 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 26.02, a PEG ratio of 1.06 and a beta of 2.02.

Encana (NYSE:ECA) (TSE:ECA) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 1st. The oil and gas company reported $0.21 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.12 by $0.09. Encana had a net margin of 1.49% and a return on equity of 7.30%. The business had revenue of $983.00 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.14 billion. Analysts anticipate that Encana will post 0.7 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 28th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 14th were paid a dividend of $0.15 per share. This is an increase from Encana’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.02. This represents a $0.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 5.36%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, September 13th. Encana’s payout ratio is presently 13.95%.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Clinton Group Inc. acquired a new position in Encana during the second quarter valued at $131,000. Advisor Partners LLC acquired a new position in Encana during the second quarter valued at $134,000. Financial Gravity Wealth Inc. acquired a new position in Encana during the first quarter valued at $142,000. Suntrust Banks Inc. acquired a new position in Encana during the first quarter valued at $165,000. Finally, Fox Run Management L.L.C. acquired a new position in Encana during the third quarter valued at $196,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 66.82% of the company’s stock.

About Encana

Encana Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the exploration, development, production, and marketing of natural gas, oil, and natural gas liquids. The company holds interests in various assets, including the Montney in northern British Columbia and northwest Alberta; Duvernay in west central Alberta; and other upstream operations comprising Wheatland in southern Alberta, Horn River in northeast British Columbia, and Deep Panuke located in offshore Nova Scotia in Canada.

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