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.
For the most part, 2020 was a year when winning stocks kept moving higher. Underperformers remained stuck in neutral or worse.
Renewable energy companies’ abrupt conversion from value to momentum stocks was by far the most positive story in the Conrad’s Utility Investor coverage universe in 2020. Nine of the top ten performers owned their gains to a sharp uptick in investor enthusiasm for wind, solar, battery storage and electric vehicles.
Conversely, many other essential services companies I track are still one-third or more off their highs of last February. And the result was the largest performance gap in the history of this advisory, some 843 percentage points between the biggest winner and loser.
Takeover activity was the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy year for communications, with two more deals closing in December. New Aggressive Holding Telephone & Data Systems (NYSE: TDS) is this year’s most eligible candidate for a high premium offer.
Locked in 6 to 8 percent annual earnings growth secured by steady rate base expansion; Strong regulatory relations in 8 southern states, particularly Texas; A dividend that’s nearly doubled over the past decade and is still covered better than 2-to-1 by profits; A secure A-rated balance sheet and operating metrics routinely at the top for natural gas distributors.
Conservative Holdings up 2.6 percent, Aggressive Holdings ahead by 12.8 percent, Top 10 DRIPS a -12 percent loss. Those are the CUI Portfolio returns for 2020. By comparison, the Dow Jones Utility Average gained 1.5 percent, also including dividends paid. And the popular Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE: XLU) was up 0.07 percent.
Last year, 25 coverage universe companies cut or eliminated dividends. That’s more than one in eight we track and compares to just 16 in 2019. And it was the largest number in at least a decade for this group of ordinarily super-stable and financially strong companies.
Years from now, market historians may look back on 2020 as a relatively quiet year for utility stocks—with the Dow Jones Utility Average posting a 1.5 percent return including dividends. Even a cursory glance at my graph reveals anything but a tranquil time. In retrospect, best in class essential services companies demonstrated resilience to the historic pandemic that exceeded even my high expectations.
Gas companies strengthened their case during pandemic-wracked 2020 by demonstrating extremely stable economics, paying generous dividends backed by ultra-secure and growing cash flows, and still remaining small enough to have perennial takeover appeal. Those strengths promise to make natural gas distribution a hot commodity again in 2021.
At first glance, MDU Resources (NYSE:MDU) shows a fairly discouraging investment profile. But there are three very good reasons to expect much better in the next 12 months.
Strong regulated utilities combined with long-term contracted renewable energy generation: That’s the NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) business model. And not only does the formula work well, it’s become quite popular with investors.
Roger's favorite utilities for investors seeking superior price appreciation by taking calculated risks.
Harness the tried and true wealth-building power of rising dividends.
Nothing compounds wealth like reinvesting a rising stream of dividends.
Warning: Falling Dividends.
Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.