October 13, 2017 / 4:04 PM / 10 months ago

PG&E falls as California wildfires spark investor concerns

(Reuters) - Shares of PG&E (PCG.N) fell for the third straight day on Friday on investor concerns the company may have to pay damages after authorities suggested power lines toppled by strong winds may have sparked the worst wildfire in California’s history.

Flames erupted on Sunday night, gaining strength over the week. The exact cause of the disaster is under investigation.

Shares of the California-based utility fell as much as 13 percent on Friday to $56.32 on the New York Stock Exchange.

“While it is too early to determine the utility’s responsibility, it is possible that shareholders will bear responsibility for some damages,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Shelby Tucker said, cutting her price target on the company’s stock by $2 to $68.

The analyst said even if the company is insured for damages, it would still be financially responsible for harm to property and could be sued for damages.

“The extent of damages possible under negligence are far higher since they include personal injury damages, among others,” Tucker said.

PG&E has been investigated by California’s department of forestry and fire protection earlier too.

According to media reports, a 2015 investigation found that a power line operated by the utility ignited fires that burned more than 70,000 acres.

Shares of PG&E have fallen nearly 20 percent since Wednesday, when officials said electric wires knocked down by winds could have caused the fire.

The utility’s shares were trading at $59.33 on late Friday morning.

Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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