• Twitter
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors


Utility Business is Booming, Stocks Will Take Longer

By Roger S. Conrad on Feb. 12, 2024

About a quarter of the 172 Utility Report Card members have reported calendar Q4 results and updated guidance. The top takeaway: There’s still absolutely no sign of the utility earnings Armageddon that’s now reflected in sector stocks’ bear market-like prices.

One reason for utility business strength is simply rising demand. Rapid adoption of artificial intelligence has massively and relatively suddenly begun ramping up electricity usage at data centers. And as my feature article highlights, utilities are increasing investment plans in response, which are the primary drivers of their long-term growth.

Falling Borrowing Costs = Rising Stock Prices

By Roger S. Conrad on Jan. 11, 2024

The Dow Jones Utility Average finished 2023 with a -5.2 percent loss including dividends. That’s the worst performance for utilities since 2008.

It’s a far cry from that year’s -27.8 percent pummeling. But the DJUA’s 31.3 percentage point underperformance of the S&P 500 is actually worse than 1999—when a similar combination of rising interest rates and soaring technology stocks soured many investors on dividends.

So in 2024, utility stocks have outperformed, as they have since early October. One big reason to expect more gains: A massive decline in companies’ borrowing costs that’s occurred well in advance of any Federal Reserve easing.

Utilities Re-Rating in Progress

By Roger S. Conrad on Dec. 11, 2023

There’s just three weeks left until New Year’s Eve. And the Dow Jones Utility Average is still down –6.2 percent in 2023. That leaves the sector on track for its worst performance since 2008, barring a powerful end-year rally,—though that year’s -27.8 percent demolishing is in a whole different league.

Since early October, however, the DJUA is up 11.5 percent, topping even the robust returns from the S&P 500 and the big technology stock Nasdaq 100. And the biggest winners the past two months have been the stocks that were beaten up the most through September, for example AES Corp (NYSE: AES) with an 60 percent-plus return.

My view: We’re in the early stages of a utility sector re-rating and stock price recovery.

Utilities and the Earnings Collapse That Never Happened

By Roger S. Conrad on Nov. 13, 2023

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.

Utilities and Dividend Stocks: After the Crash

By Roger S. Conrad on Oct. 9, 2023

Focus on quality. Invest incrementally, and keep a generous pile of cash to scoop up bargains when prices become too low to resist. That’s been our basic strategy in 2023, in anticipation of worse to come for the economy and markets. And tough times are exactly what we’ve seen over the past month. Since September 15, the Dow Jones Utility Average has lost more than -10 percent, taking its year to date loss to -14.6 percent including dividends.

As always happens in major downturns, some of the biggest losses are in places where we least expected them. A good example is NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE). America’s leading producer of solar, wind and energy storage reduced dividend growth guidance at its affiliate NextEra Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP). And the result was several days of the worst selling for utilities since March 2020.

Investing Like It’s 1999

By Roger S. Conrad on Sep. 11, 2023

With money market funds and CDs paying 5 percent plus, many investors are asking how dividend stocks can compete on yield.

The far more relevant question: How they stack up on total return, over a meaningful period of time. And on this score, cash alternatives don’t come close to matching up.

Not since 1999 have essential services sectors lagged market averages by this great a margin. Year to date, the Dow Jones Utility Average has dropped by nearly -10 percent. The S&P 500, in contrast, is ahead by 16 percent. And despite losing some momentum recently, the Nasdaq 100 is up better than 40 percent.

Utility Earnings and Stock Prices: Behind the Divergence

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 7, 2023

The Dow Jones Utility Average is now underwater by nearly -7 percent including dividends so far in 2023. That’s more than 25 percentage points behind the S&P 500, which continues to be pushed higher by momentum-fueled big technology stocks.

In contrast, twice as many companies in my coverage universe (18) have so far raised their 2023 guidance following Q2 earnings as reduced it. And none have cut the longer-term growth guidance that will ultimately drive their share prices higher.

Conrad’s Utility Investor at 10 Years: Quality Still King

By Roger S. Conrad on Jul. 10, 2023

The Dow Jones Utility Average finished 2022 more than 20 percentage points ahead of the S&P 500. So far this year, however, utilities are lagging by roughly the same amount.

The S&P 500’s gains are thanks to the continuing surge in big technology stocks, which led by Apple Inc (NSDQ: AAPL) at 7.673 percent are a record 37 percent of the benchmark index. Meanwhile, the DJUA at -4 percent year to date is tracking weakness in dividend paying stocks—as well as sectors considered “cyclical” and vulnerable to Federal Reserve rate increases and still-elevated recession risk.

Utilities and Telecoms: AI’s Undiscovered Beneficiaries

By Roger S. Conrad on Jun. 12, 2023

The S&P 500 is still a little more than -10 percent below its January 2022 high water mark. But thanks to a buying wave washing over a handful of now very expensive big technology stocks, the index and related ETFs are up 12.8 percent so far in 2023.

The catalyst: An outbreak of interest in stocks perceived as benefitting from adoption of artificial intelligence.

The bulls envision a world where AI is used to augment productivity to transform pretty much every industry. Yet at least so far, there’s been little attention paid to the immense volumes of energy and communications bandwidth to support ubiquitous AI chatbots needed to make that dream a reality.

Strong Utilities will Navigate the Culture Wars

By Roger S. Conrad on May. 11, 2023

Earlier this month, New York announced a ban on new natural gas hookups starting later this decade. Then Texas imposed major new restrictions on wind and solar deployment. And both states respectively released plans to spend billions of taxpayer money to build new renewable energy and natural gas generation, if the private sector doesn’t jump fast and high enough.

Not to be left out, Congressional Republicans passed legislation to undo the Biden Administration’s two-year solar panel tariff relief. And the House is threatening to trigger a first-ever US default if Inflation Reduction Act subsidies aren’t unwound, just as the Biden Administration is rolling out all-new restrictions on fossil fuel use including transport.



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 b