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When an investor screens utility companies, they expect that the companies will have consistent earnings and pay a reasonable dividend. This article will examine six utility companies in an attempt to see if they can provide stock growth as well as dividend income. Each of the companies examined in this article has had some stock growth and has a dividend yield in excess of 4%.

CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP) CenterPoint has a market cap of $8.14 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 6.01. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $15.09 and $21.47. The stock is currently trading around $19. The company reported third quarter revenues of $1.8 billion compared to revenues of $1.9 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter operating income was $357 million compared to operating income of $327 million in the third quarter of 2010.

CenterPoint Energy is a holding company whose subsidiaries generate electricity and distribute electricity and natural gas. CenterPoint Energy increased its year-over-year revenues by 6.1% and its net income by 18.8%. The company has paid a quarterly dividend since 1970 and has increased the dividend five times by 32% over the last five years. CenterPoint is engaged in three businesses: the electric business through the Houston Electric Company, the natural gas collection and distribution business, and the pipeline business. The electric business has benefited because of unusually warm weather in summer months, and the natural gas and pipeline will benefit from cost reductions from newer equipment. CenterPoint Energy has been profitable in each of the last ten years, and offers investors safety along with the potential for capital appreciation and a generous dividend. In addition, with a price to earnings ratio of only 6.01, CenterPoint is cheaper than its competitors. The stock price has performed well and was up by 20.3% over the last 52 weeks. and 76% over the last three years. I expect CenterPoint Energy’s stock price will continue to move up.

DTE Energy Company (NYSE:DTE) DTE Energy Company has a market cap of $8.72 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 12.26. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $43.22 and $53.00. The stock is currently trading around $52. The company reported third quarter revenues of $2.2 billion compared to revenues of $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $183 million compared to net income of $163 million in the third quarter of 2010.

DTE Energy Company is an electric and natural gas utility company that has its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. The company has paid quarterly dividends since 1970 and has increased the dividend three times by 14% over the last five years. In the third quarter, the company increased year-over-year revenues by 4.7% and net income by 12.2%. DTE Energy has increased its net income in each of the last two years. One of the reasons for the increased earnings is because of lower operating and maintenance cost, which are a result of continued infrastructure improvements. Maintenance costs are now at a lower level than in 2005. On November 4th, the company reported third quarter earnings per share of $1.07, which exceeded estimates by $0.09. The company’s stock price is up by 13.5% over the last 52 weeks. DTE Energy’s earnings and stock price are trending upwards.

Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE:HE) Hawaiian Electric Industries has a market cap of $2.49 billion, with a price to earnings ratio of 19.19. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $20.59 and $26.79. The stock is currently trading around $26. The company reported third quarter revenues of $886 million compared to revenues of $694 million in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $49 million compared to net income of $33 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Hawaiian Electric Industries is a holding company which is primarily an electric utility business. The company increased its third quarter year-over-year revenues by 27%, and its net income by 48%. The company has paid quarterly dividends since 1988, and last increased its dividend in 1998. The current dividend is $1.24 per share. One reason for the companies increased earnings is because it has made progress in achieving its renewable energy goals. Meeting renewable energy goals is vital for Hawaiian Electric Industries because it is an island utility company that is 80% dependent on imported oil. Hawaiian Electric Industries has strong momentum. The company's third quarter earnings per share were up by 43%, and the stock price is up by 16.2% over the last 52 weeks.

Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR) Entergy Corporation has a market cap of $12.61 billion, with a price to earnings ratio of 9.04. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $57.60 and $74.50. The stock is currently trading around $72. The company reported third quarter revenues of $3.4 billion compared to revenues of $3.3 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $633 million compared to net income of $498 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Entergy Corporation is an electric utility company. The company increased its third quarter year-over-year revenues by 3% and its net income by 27%. The company has paid quarterly dividends since 1982 and has increased the dividend two times by 53.7% over the last five years. The stock price has been relatively flat, and is up by 1.5% over the last 52 weeks, but down by 1% over the last three years. I like Entergy Corporation's 4.7% dividend yield, but I would avoid the stock, because other utility companies have a better potential for capital appreciation.

Vectren Corporation (NYSE:VVC) Vectren Corporation has a market cap of $2.37 billion, with a price to earnings ratio of 16.91. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $23.65 and $29.54. The stock is currently trading near the top of its 52 week range at around $29. The company reported third quarter revenues of $539 million compared to revenues of $422 million in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $35 million compared to net income of $16 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Vectren delivers electricity and natural gas to customers in Indiana and west central Ohio. The company has paid quarterly dividends since 1988, and has increased the dividend five times by 14.7% over the last five years. The company increased its third quarter year-over-year revenues by 27% and its net income by 115%. The increase in the net income was the result of higher coal mining revenues, increased electricity rates and cost savings from newer infrastructure. In additional good news, on November 10th the company increased its dividend to $1.40. %. Vectren is on a roll; its third quarter earnings per share were 139% higher than the prior quarter, and its stock price increased by 13.2% over the last 52 weeks. I expect Vectren will continue to grow its earnings and stock price.

Southern Company (NYSE:SO) Southern Company has a market cap of $38.33 billion with a price to earnings ratio of 18.20. The stock has traded in a 52 week range between $32.04 and $39.75. The stock is currently trading around $44. The company reported third quarter revenues of $5.4 billion compared to revenues of $5.3 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Third quarter net income was $933 million compared to net income of $833 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Southern Company is an electric utility company that operates in the southeast portion of the United States. The company increased its year-over-year third quarter revenues by 1.8% and its net income by 12%. The company has paid quarterly dividends since 1998 and has increased the dividend six times by 26.8% since 2006. Southern Company is one of the largest and best known utility companies in the United States. Its average trading volume is over 5.4 million shares per day. The company is well run and has been profitable for decades. The company's net income is up by 33% over the last five years. The stock price is up by 17.9% over the last 52 weeks, and I believe that a big reason for the increase in the stock price is because people trust the Southern Company name. Southern allows its investors to sleep well at night because the company provides consistent earnings and a growing dividend.

Source: 6 Excellent Utility Stocks For Big Dividend Income