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Issues

Inflation Shapes Performance In a Still Pricey Stock Market

By Roger S. Conrad on May. 9, 2022
The S&P 500 is down more than -13 percent year-to-date, as inflation worries have begun to morph into recession fears. But despite jagged volatility, the Dow Jones Utility Average remains in the black for 2022. In fact, 18 CUI Portfolio stocks are still priced above maximum recommended entry points, with Chevron Corp (NYSE: CVX) in partial profit taking territory.

Utilities are Popular Again, Here’s How to Take Advantage

By Roger S. Conrad on Apr. 11, 2022

The Federal Reserve is getting serious about reining in inflation. And the kind of big money that never rests for long has apparently decided US utility stocks are an ideal haven.

The happy result: After lagging the past couple years, the Dow Jones Utility Average has pushed out to a 10 percent year-to-date return. That’s even as the S&P 500 has retreated -5.5 percent and the Nasdaq 100 is down -12 percent. 

Utilities Holding Steady, But Watch for Shifting Ground

By Roger S. Conrad on Mar. 14, 2022

After briefly rising over 1,000 for the first time, the Dow Jones Utility Average is in the black this year. That means essential service companies, including big communications stocks, are outperforming pretty much everything this side of oil and gas.

Electric, gas, energy infrastructure, water and communications service providers are the kind of substantial, reliable, dividend paying companies investors like to hold in turbulent times. And early 2022 certainly qualifies, with the highest inflation in 40-plus years, a diminished but lingering pandemic, continuing supply chain disruption and now a full-on war.

Seek Superior Dividend Growth to Beat Inflation

By Roger S. Conrad on Feb. 14, 2022

Stocks with sustainable 5 to 7 percent annual dividend growth: That’s how we’ll beat the current 40-year high in inflation, which pretty much caught the world’s central bankers napping.

The best place to hunt for companies to do that job is my Utility Report Card coverage universe—and particularly the stocks I recommend in the Conrad’s Utility Investor Portfolios.

Normally six months into a new quarter, the vast majority of companies I track would have released earnings and updated guidance. End-year filing requirements will extend the Q4 reporting period well into next month. But from what I’ve seen so far, the best in class are well on track to continue raising dividends faster than the current rate of inflation—and some much faster like Conservative Focus stock NextEra Energy Partners (NYSE: NEP) at 15 percent plus.

A Solid 2021 in the Books: Here’s How To Have Another in 2022

By Roger S. Conrad on Jan. 14, 2022
Through the first nine months of 2021, the Dow Jones Utility Average was up barely 1 percent. But after their fourth best Q4 since 1969, utilities’ 2021 return was actually 5 percentage points higher than the yearly average since 1993. It was also a good year for the three Conrad’s Utility Investor Portfolios. Top 10 DRIPs gained 19.5 percent on average, Aggressive Holdings 17.2 percent and Conservative Holdings 12.8 percent. Readers observing the discipline of recommended entry and partial profit taking points fared even better.

Bear Market Values in a Wobbly Market

By Roger S. Conrad on Dec. 13, 2021
Welcome to the 101st issue of Conrad’s Utility Investor. And here’s to the next 100 plus! With another coronavirus variant emerging and inflation the highest since 1982, it’s small wonder stocks are wobbling. But despite broad market uncertainty, the Dow Jones Utility Average is performing better than it has all year, up 8 percent since the end of September. Utilities are the rare sector where earnings and dividends have grown into bull market prices. That’s no guarantee they won’t sell off if the stock market heads down. But investors with a longer-term horizon can buy the best in class at prices ensuring 10 percent plus annual returns, provided companies stay strong on the inside.

Best Buys for a 2021 Fantastic Finish

By Roger S. Conrad on Nov. 8, 2021

Credit whatever you want for breaking the logjam in the US Congress. But starting next year, US electricity, natural gas, telecom and water utilities will enjoy unprecedented federal government largesse to support capital spending plans, courtesy of the $1.2 billion infrastructure law passed last week with bipartisan support. The August feature article archived on the CUI website highlights my list of winners from the coming spending boom. They include well-placed developers of renewable energy and hydrogen, broadband deployers and utility construction companies.

Rising Energy Prices and Interest Rates: Danger and Opportunity

By Roger S. Conrad on Oct. 11, 2021
October is the month with the reputation for hosting epic market crashes. But September has historically been the worst for stock returns. And this year’s results matched the trend, as the S&P shed close to 5 percent and the Dow Jones Utility Average more than 6 percent of its value. The silver lining is the vast majority of our Portfolio stocks are once again trading at reasonable entry points for fresh money. And ironically, specific company developments last month were strongly positive. Front and center is Illinois’ new energy law and its potential to accelerate growth for Conservative Focus stock Exelon Corp (NYSE: EXC) and deep value Vistra Energy (NYSE: VST).

Sweet Spots in Stormy Times

By Roger S. Conrad on Sep. 6, 2021

From Winter Storm Uri to Hurricane Ida, extreme weather is the emerging big story for utilities in 2021, just as the pandemic was last year. And now as then, well-executed responses are absolutely essential.

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp (NYSE: ETR) arguably has the most on the line at this time. The Portfolio section discusses its prospects, as well as those of other storm-hit utilities.

My other big theme this month is income. Borrowing rates for Utility Report Card companies are still near multi-generation lows, which means slim pickings for fixed income. But the Feature article shows there are still big, safe yields in less obvious places.

Strong Q2 Results Sow the Seeds of Second Half Gains

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 9, 2021

“Unpacking” earnings for key details became a popular catch phrase for analysts during Q2 reporting season. And that’s exactly what I do in this August issue of CUI: Utility Report Card highlights vital signs for the 90 percent or so of coverage universe companies that have turned in numbers and updated guidance, while the Portfolio section focuses on my top recommendations.

I dig deep into results to answer two critical questions. First, are companies still moving in the right direction with strategic plans and balance sheet health? And second, are business developments adequately reflected in share prices, meaning are there opportunities for upside or should we be moving on?

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ABOUT ROGER CONRAD

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