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When it comes to utility stocks they may not be great conversation starters or such high profile names like Google (GOOG) or Apple (AAPL) but they still get the job done. That is why today we focused on utility companies that have achieved great profitability while using little financial leverage. In our view, these names deserve a review for the reasons above even if they won't start any great conversations at the neighborhood barbeque.

The Net Margin is a profitability metric that illustrates, by percentage, how much of every dollar earned gets turned into a bottom line profit. This is just one of many profitability metrics used by investors and analysts to better understand what the firm is being left with at the end of the day. Generally, a company that can expand its net profit margins over a period of time will see its stock price rise as well due to the trend of increasing profitability.

Financial Leverage, also known as the Equity Multiplier, illustrates how a company is financing its assets. The lower the number the more a company is financing its assets internally through stockholder equity. The higher this metric is the more the company is relying on debt to finance its assets.

We first looked for utility stocks that have been able to retain strong profit margins on the bottom line (Net Margin (TTM)>10%). From this narrowed list of names we specifically filtered out companies that have been able to achieve this while employing at most a moderate level of leverage (financial leverage<2). We did not screen out any market caps.

The list is ranked from highest to lowest by the Net Margin (TTM):

1. National Electricity Company (EOC)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Electric

Market Cap

$13,068M

Beta

0.35

The company engages in the generation, transmission, production, and distribution of electricity. EOC has a net margin (TTM) of 19.25% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.61%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

2. Energy Company of Minas Gerais. (CIG)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Diversified

Market Cap

$11,635M

Beta

0.60

The company is a state-controlled mixed capital company organized in Minas Gerais, Brazil. CIG has a net margin (TTM) of 16.93% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.86%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

3. Cleco Corporation. (CNL)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Electric

Market Cap

$2,236M

Beta

0.43

The company operates as a utility holding company in Louisiana. CNL has a net margin (TTM) of 16.36% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.90%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

4. CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Gas

Market Cap

$8,646M

Beta

0.65

The company operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. CNP has a net margin (TTM) of 16.23% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 4.98%. The short interest was 1.30% as of 10/14/2011.

5. Companhia de Saneamento B sico do Estado de Sao Paulo (SBS)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Water

Market Cap

$6,271M

Beta

1.25

The company provides water and sewage services to residential, commercial, industrial, and governmental customers in the State of Sao Paulo. SBS has a net margin (TTM) of 16.17% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.44%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

6. National Grid PLC. (NGG)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Electric

Market Cap

$36,899M

Beta

0.59

The company owns and operates regulated electricity and gas infrastructure networks in the United Kingdom and northeastern United States. NGG has a net margin (TTM) of 15.05% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 5.12%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

7. National Fuel Gas Company. (NFG)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Gas

Market Cap

$5,260M

Beta

1.14

The company National Fuel Gas Company, through its subsidiaries, operates as a diversified energy company primarily in the United States. NFG has a net margin (TTM) of 14.58% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.77%. The short interest was 1.20% as of 10/14/2011.

8. Duke Energy Corporation. (DUK)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Electric

Market Cap

$27,715M

Beta

0.34

The company Duke Energy Corporation operates as an energy company in the Americas. DUK has a net margin (TTM) of 14.00% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.65%. The short interest was N/A as of 10/14/2011.

9. Idacorp, Inc. (IDA)

Sector

Utilities

Industry

Utilities - Regulated Electric

Market Cap

$2,055M

Beta

0.39

The company engages in the generation, transmission, distribution, sale, and purchase of electric energy in the United States. IDA has a net margin (TTM) of 13.44% & operates with a financial leverage ratio of 2.97%. The short interest was 4.00% as of 10/14/2011.

We hope this list helps as investors do their own due diligence and research on utility stocks.

*Company profiles were sourced from Finviz.

Source: 9 Low Leverage Utility Stocks With Impressive Bottom Line Profitability