Roger S. Conrad needs no introduction to individual and professional investors, many of whom have profited from his decades of experience uncovering the best dividend-paying stocks for accumulating sustainable wealth.
Roger built his reputation with Utility Forecaster, a publication he founded more than 20 years ago that The Hulbert Financial Digest routinely ranked as one of the best investment newsletters. He’s also a sought-after expert on master limited partnerships (MLP) and former Canadian royalty trusts.
In April 2013, Roger reunited with his long-time friend and colleague, Elliott Gue, becoming co-editor of Energy & Income Advisor, a semimonthly online newsletter that’s dedicated to uncovering the most profitable opportunities in the energy sector.
Although the masthead may have changed, readers can count on Roger to deliver the same high-quality analysis and rational assessment of the best dividend-paying utilities, MLPs and dividend-paying Canadian energy names.
Will higher for longer interest rates derail utilities’ inflation-beating dividend growth? The Dow Jones Utility Average’s total return is 27 percentage points behind the S&P 500’s so far in 2023, a wider gap than in 1999. So obviously, the Wall Street consensus has been yes. Reality says different. In fact, no fewer than 48 of the 172 companies in my Utility Report Card coverage universe raised their 2023 guidance after releasing Q3 results. A third that many reduced guidance, but none cited higher interest rates as a primary reason.
Evergy Inc (NYSE: EVRG) cut the mid-point of its annual target growth range from 7 to 5 percent. But every other company in the coverage universe affirmed previous projections. Several announced meaningful capital spending increases.
Shares of Aggressive Holding Atlantic Sustainable Infrastructure Plc (NSDQ: AY) have lost almost one-third of their value this year. That’s pushed the dividend yield well north of 10 percent, a level last seen in early 2016. That’s when the bankruptcy of then-parent Abengoa SA threatened numerous company projects with potential cross-defaults. That forced Atlantica to hold in cash by suspending its dividend for six months. And it wasn’t until June 2021 that the payout was fully restored to the pre-suspension rate.
About a year ago, Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) announced a “top-to-bottom” strategic review. Management’s objective: To tackle three headwinds that were rapidly approaching hurricane force. Most important was ensuring the cost of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project wouldn’t balloon as other US offshore wind has. But the utility also had to reach an accommodation with a restive new Republican majority in the state legislature that was determined to roll back Democrats’ signature renewable energy law. And it had to cut parent level and floating rate debt with interest rates soaring.
The Dow Jones Utility Average closed last week roughly -22 percent off the all-time high of 1077 reached in April 2022. The S&P Utilities is about as far below its all-time high from September last year. And both indexes have underperformed the S&P 500 by about 40 percentage points since making those highs. That’s pretty substantial underperformance. And the same is true for dividend-paying sectors across the board—Not much lately has beaten the humble money market fund.
There were zero dividend cuts in the Utility Report Card coverage universe last month. Nor were there any negative Q3 surprises to push another company onto the Endangered Dividends List.
Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) is off this list this month. Management provided details during its Q3 earnings call that strongly back the integrity of the current dividend. The stock is a buy up to 65 and is my Conservative Focus.
This fall, utility stocks faced their worst selling pressure in years. That’s now eased up for one major reason: The much predicted and feared sector-wide earnings Armageddon never happened. Rather, Q3 results and guidance show plainly that companies are adapting successfully to everything from rising labor costs and pressure on customers’ finances to the likelihood of higher for longer interest rates.
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Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.