Some of the largest institutional investors in natural gas utility stocks had a fairly active second-quarter, swapping their holdings during a period when gas distributors were largely an afterthought for many investors.
Among a group of gas utilities selected by S&P Global Market Intelligence, UGI Corp. saw the largest net increase in share purchases by institutional investors. The Pennsylvania-based diversified energy delivery company was the group's top stock price performer year to date.
BlackRock Inc., the world's largest asset manager, led the buying in UGI common stock. The firm built its stake by about 1.8 million shares, reaching its largest position in UGI on record, according to historical data tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
BlackRock also posted the largest quarterly net purchase in shares of Southwest Gas Holdings Inc. and the second biggest for both South Jersey Industries Inc. and Chesapeake Utilities Corp. The firm was the second biggest net seller in shares of both One Gas Inc. and Spire Inc. BlackRock remained the top common stockholder for seven of the nine companies in the group as of June 30.
State Street Global Advisors Inc. surpassed BlackRock to become the largest owner of South Jersey Industries common stock. Its purchase of more than 10.8 million SJI shares was by far the largest net common stock purchase for a gas distributor in the group during the quarter.
State Street's second largest net ownership increase was in another Garden State gas distributor: New Jersey Resources Corp. The firm was the third largest net purchaser of Chesapeake Utilities shares and the third biggest net seller of UGI common stock.
Atmos Energy Corp. saw the largest net increase in share purchases on a percentage basis, up 4.2% from the previous quarter, compared to a 3.6% sequential increase for UGI. Pendal Group Ltd. led the purchases of Atmos with a new position built on net quarterly purchases of almost 2.6 million shares, making the investment manager the sixth largest holder of the company's common stock as of June 30. RREEF America LLC was the second biggest quarterly net purchaser of Atmos shares, as the Deutsche Bank AG-owned real estate investment manager rebuilt the position it exited the prior quarter.
Northwest Natural Holding Co. posted the largest net decrease in institutional ownership, down about 1 million shares, or 4.8%. First Trust Advisors LP slashed its position by 91%, or 1.1 million shares. First Trust was also among the top three net sellers of Southwest Gas and Chesapeake Utilities common stock, the only other two names in the group to see net decreases in institutional ownership. The investment advisory firm was among the top three net buyers of UGI, Atmos, One Gas and New Jersey Resources common stock.