The natural gas company reported Tuesday fourth-quarter earnings of $61.6 million, or 34 cents a share, a decline from year-ago earnings of $63.7 million, or 36 cents."Although the utility benefited from a 1.1% expansion in its customer base, these benefits were more than offset by higher operating expenses," D.A. Davidson analysts wrote in a report Wednesday. Shares of Questar were upgraded to buy from hold by TheStreet Ratings. "The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance," TheStreet Ratings wrote. "We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow." Questar has a forward P/E of 15.42; the average for gas distribution companies is 17.65. For comparison, Spectra Energy (SE) has a forward P/E of 15.24; Oneok's (OKE) is 21.86. Six of the 11 analysts who cover Questar rated it a hold. Four analysts gave it a buy rating and one gave it a sell rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Questar a B grade with a $22.88 price target. The stock closed Wednesday at $19.57 and has dropped 1.46% year to date. -- Written by Alexandra Zendrian
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