If you're looking for a reliable stock with good long term potential, you may be interested in Wisconsin Energy Corp. (WEC). This company provides power in Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
This is a region that has been lacking in electricity infrastructure, and WEC has been approved by regulators to expand significantly. The company is calling its growth plan "Power the Future," and it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the past few years, (and expects to spend another $2.5 billion by 2010) to add natural gas, wind and coal powered plants.
In addition to getting approval to expand, WEC has also been given the latitude to charge profitable rates; because these rates are regulated, they should be reliable in delivering earnings in the coming years. The downside of the stock is that the capital expenditures will keep profits down for the next couple years until the new plants start coming online in 2009 and 2010. The second quarter results reflect this situation, with revenue up 11% but earnings down 9% -- though the company still beat expectations.
If you're comfortable waiting for your returns, this is a good stock to buy. It may take a few years, but the payoff should be worth it. And it may not take that long; Goldman Sachs recently released a report with a $54 target for the next 12 months. The Goldman analyst also predicted that the dividend, which is currently low for a utility like WEC, could also grow after 2009.
Type of Stock: A rapidly growing utility with solid long-term potential.
Price Target: WEC is currently trading near its 52-week low, after hitting $50 in the spring. I think it's a solid buy in the low $40s. If the Goldman report is correct, you'll see a return of nearly 30% in twelve months, and if you can hold until 2009, you may see the stock start rising more as the new plants come online and profits increase.