Spire Inc. (NYSE:SR) reached a new 52-week high during mid-day trading on Wednesday following a better than expected earnings announcement. The company traded as high as $74.10 and last traded at $73.95, with a volume of 39,742 shares changing hands. The stock had previously closed at $73.40.

The utilities provider reported $0.44 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.39 by $0.05. Spire had a net margin of 9.12% and a return on equity of 8.77%. The company had revenue of $323.50 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $293.99 million. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.33 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 29.8% on a year-over-year basis.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 3rd. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 11th will be issued a dividend of $0.525 per share. This represents a $2.10 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.80%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, September 8th. Spire’s payout ratio is 60.17%.

SR has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Stifel Nicolaus restated a “hold” rating and issued a $71.00 price target on shares of Spire in a report on Thursday, August 3rd. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Spire from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $77.00 price target on the stock in a report on Wednesday, July 12th. Morgan Stanley raised their price target on shares of Spire from $70.00 to $71.00 and gave the company an “underweight” rating in a report on Monday, May 8th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada restated a “hold” rating and issued a $73.00 price target on shares of Spire in a report on Wednesday. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $71.43.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Spire by 11,569.5% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,712,688 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $385,606,000 after buying an additional 5,663,734 shares during the last quarter. American Century Companies Inc. raised its position in shares of Spire by 124.9% in the second quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 3,475,470 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $242,414,000 after buying an additional 1,930,140 shares during the last quarter. Denver Investment Advisors LLC bought a new position in shares of Spire during the first quarter valued at approximately $17,993,000. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Spire by 5.3% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 4,443,903 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $309,962,000 after buying an additional 224,903 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Sei Investments Co. raised its position in shares of Spire by 864.2% in the second quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 189,202 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $13,197,000 after buying an additional 169,579 shares during the last quarter. 74.68% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

The company’s 50-day moving average is $71.68 and its 200 day moving average is $68.70. The company has a market capitalization of $3.62 billion, a PE ratio of 21.68 and a beta of 0.33.

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About Spire

Spire Inc, formerly The Laclede Group, Inc, is engaged to transform its business and pursue growth by growing its gas utility business through prudent investment in infrastructure upgrades and organic growth initiatives; acquire and integrate gas utilities; modernize its gas assets, and invest in innovation.

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