Zacks Investment Research Lowers Qep Resources (QEP) to Sell

Qep Resources (NYSE:QEP) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday, April 11th.

According to Zacks, “Despite QEP Resources' strategic initiatives to transform it into a pure-play Permian player, we are recalibrating our investment thesis on the company to Sell from Hold. With rig prices rising on the back of stronger demand and stiff competition putting upward pressure on service costs, the company's margins are set to suffer in the Permian Basin. Moreover, while QEP plans to sell all its non-Permian assets, we are concerned over its ability to execute the planned disposal amid other large tracts of properties on the block. As it is, with natural gas unable to break through the $3 barrier and the commodity still accounting for half of QEP’s total production, earnings and cash flows are bound to suffer, at least in the near-to-medium term. This is expected to limit its ability to deliver positive earnings surprises. Considering these factors, we see QEP Resources as a risky bet.”

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Other research analysts also recently issued reports about the stock. Mizuho set a $15.00 target price on shares of Qep Resources and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, January 16th. Piper Jaffray reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $14.00 target price on shares of Qep Resources in a research report on Tuesday, January 9th. Williams Capital set a $18.00 price target on shares of Qep Resources and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, March 1st. Johnson Rice assumed coverage on shares of Qep Resources in a research note on Wednesday, March 21st. They set a “buy” rating and a $19.00 price target for the company. Finally, TheStreet upgraded shares of Qep Resources from a “d” rating to a “c-” rating in a research note on Tuesday, March 13th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $12.86.

Shares of NYSE:QEP traded up $0.14 during trading hours on Wednesday, reaching $11.69. The stock had a trading volume of 909,052 shares, compared to its average volume of 6,456,012. Qep Resources has a 1 year low of $7.02 and a 1 year high of $12.90. The company has a current ratio of 0.29, a quick ratio of 0.28 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57. The company has a market cap of $2,739.82, a PE ratio of 15.00 and a beta of 1.53.

Qep Resources (NYSE:QEP) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, February 28th. The pipeline company reported $1.13 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.07) by $1.20. The firm had revenue of $429.00 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $392.01 million. Qep Resources had a net margin of 16.59% and a return on equity of 5.06%. The company’s revenue was up 7.3% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the firm posted ($0.15) EPS. equities research analysts expect that Qep Resources will post -0.7 EPS for the current year.

Qep Resources declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback plan on Wednesday, February 28th that authorizes the company to repurchase $1.25 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the pipeline company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally a sign that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director David A. Trice purchased 10,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 8th. The stock was acquired at an average price of $9.00 per share, for a total transaction of $90,000.00. Following the acquisition, the director now directly owns 50,000 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $450,000. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Company insiders own 1.60% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its holdings in Qep Resources by 47.6% during the 3rd quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 6,715,171 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $57,549,000 after acquiring an additional 2,166,476 shares in the last quarter. Oslo Asset Management AS increased its holdings in Qep Resources by 123.0% during the 4th quarter. Oslo Asset Management AS now owns 2,612,900 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $25,005,000 after acquiring an additional 1,441,200 shares in the last quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group purchased a new position in Qep Resources during the 4th quarter valued at about $11,068,000. HBK Investments L P increased its holdings in Qep Resources by 59.9% during the 4th quarter. HBK Investments L P now owns 2,210,358 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $21,153,000 after acquiring an additional 828,436 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Alliancebernstein L.P. increased its holdings in Qep Resources by 4.9% during the 4th quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 10,177,149 shares of the pipeline company’s stock valued at $97,395,000 after acquiring an additional 472,446 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 93.96% of the company’s stock.

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About Qep Resources

QEP Resources, Inc, through its subsidiaries, operates as a natural gas and crude oil exploration and production company in the United States. The company conducts exploration and production activities in the Permian Basin in western Texas, Williston Basin in North Dakota, Haynesville/Cotton Valley in northwestern Louisiana, Uinta Basin in eastern Utah, and other proven properties in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.

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