South Jersey Industries Inc (NYSE:SJI) Sees Significant Decrease in Short Interest

South Jersey Industries Inc (NYSE:SJI) saw a significant drop in short interest during the month of December. As of December 31st, there was short interest totalling 5,540,000 shares, a drop of 5.5% from the December 15th total of 5,860,000 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 555,900 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 10.0 days. Currently, 6.0% of the shares of the company are sold short.

Shares of SJI traded down $0.07 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $31.75. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 2,943 shares, compared to its average volume of 664,738. The stock has a market cap of $2.89 billion, a PE ratio of 23.06, a P/E/G ratio of 2.43 and a beta of 0.67. The company has a current ratio of 0.25, a quick ratio of 0.21 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.43. South Jersey Industries has a 52 week low of $28.58 and a 52 week high of $34.48. The company’s fifty day moving average price is $31.70 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $32.12.

South Jersey Industries (NYSE:SJI) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, November 6th. The utilities provider reported ($0.30) EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.27) by ($0.03). South Jersey Industries had a net margin of 8.81% and a return on equity of 6.56%. The firm had revenue of $261.20 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $253.87 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned ($0.27) earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was down 13.6% compared to the same quarter last year. Research analysts anticipate that South Jersey Industries will post 1.1 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 27th. Investors of record on Tuesday, December 10th were paid a $0.295 dividend. This is a boost from South Jersey Industries’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.29. The ex-dividend date was Monday, December 9th. This represents a $1.18 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.72%. South Jersey Industries’s payout ratio is presently 85.51%.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in SJI. IFP Advisors Inc grew its stake in South Jersey Industries by 21.6% during the 4th quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 4,280 shares of the utilities provider’s stock worth $138,000 after buying an additional 760 shares during the last quarter. Alpine Global Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of South Jersey Industries in the 4th quarter valued at approximately $1,112,000. 6 Meridian lifted its holdings in shares of South Jersey Industries by 4.2% in the 4th quarter. 6 Meridian now owns 17,882 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $590,000 after buying an additional 720 shares during the period. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY lifted its holdings in shares of South Jersey Industries by 1.3% in the 3rd quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY now owns 29,397 shares of the utilities provider’s stock valued at $967,000 after buying an additional 391 shares during the period. Finally, Man Group plc acquired a new stake in shares of South Jersey Industries in the 3rd quarter valued at approximately $2,632,000. Institutional investors own 81.65% of the company’s stock.

Several equities research analysts have recently issued reports on the company. Morgan Stanley downgraded South Jersey Industries from an “equal weight” rating to an “underweight” rating and lowered their price target for the company from $31.00 to $29.00 in a research report on Wednesday, January 8th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut shares of South Jersey Industries from an “equal weight” rating to an “underweight” rating and reduced their price target for the stock from $31.00 to $29.00 in a report on Wednesday, January 8th. Maxim Group restated a “buy” rating and issued a $40.00 price target on shares of South Jersey Industries in a report on Friday, November 8th. ValuEngine cut shares of South Jersey Industries from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, October 24th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research cut shares of South Jersey Industries from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, January 9th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company. South Jersey Industries has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $33.80.

About South Jersey Industries

South Jersey Industries, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides energy-related products and services. The company engages in the purchase, transmission, and sale of natural gas. It also sells natural gas and pipeline transportation capacity on a wholesale basis to residential, commercial, and industrial customers on the interstate pipeline system, as well as transports natural gas, which is purchased directly from producers or suppliers to their customers.

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