* Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. on Jan. 24 downgraded Alliant Energy Corp. to "neutral" from "outperform" and lowered its 2019 EPS estimate. "[Alliant Energy] had an exceptionally strong 2016 and we don't see any near-term catalysts that should further boost the stock's ~5% PE premium vs peers," Macquarie analyst James Ward said in a research note.
* Also on Jan. 24, Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. downgraded SCANA Corp. to "neutral" from "outperform" and lowered its 2019 EPS estimate.
* Citing Dynegy Inc.'s high leverage and exposure to PJM Interconnection and ISO New England Inc. capacity auctions results, UBS Securities LLC on Jan. 18 downgraded the company to "sell" from "neutral" and lowered the price target to $7 from $8.
* Credit Suisse on Jan. 25 initiated coverage of the utility sector with "outperform" ratings for Black Hills Corp., Dominion Resources Inc. and Exelon Corp., "neutral" ratings for CMS Energy Corp., DTE Energy Co., Duke Energy Corp., Eversource Energy, NorthWestern Corp. and Spire Inc., and "underperform" ratings for Consolidated Edison Inc. and Southern Co.
* The Williams Capital Group reiterated its "buy" rating on Black Hills Corp., after the company raised its dividend for the 47th consecutive time. "While the increase in dividend growth from the 3.7% increase in 2016 to 6.0% in 2017 is welcome, the low dividend payout is curious, in our view," analyst Christopher Ellinghaus wrote in a Jan. 26 investor note. Ellinghaus has a $68 target price on the company.
* Evercore ISI maintained its "buy" rating on FirstEnergy Corp. after the company reached an agreement to sell nearly 1,600 MW of merchant generation. The firm lowered its price target on the company to $34.50 from $35.50 and said it expects the company to be fully divested from the merchant business by year-end 2018.