In July 2017, new Aggressive Holding Avista Corp (NYSE: AVA) accepted an all-cash takeover offer of $53 per share from Canadian utility Hydro One (TSX: H, OTC: HRNNF). Then followed basically a year and a half of futility. And the parties eventually broke off their deal in January 2019, when regulators in Idaho and Washington rejected it due to concerns about then Ontario premier Doug Ford. Avista shares overnight dropped from low-50s to the low-30s and have been attempting to fight their way back ever since. The primary hurdle: Investor concerns about regulation in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and especially Washington (60 percent of rate base), where the needs of the utility’s eastern state franchise are a world away from coastal politicians.
Last year, Southwest Gas Holdings (NYSE: SWX) shares soared above $90, my “consider taking profits” price listed in the “Portfolio Holdings Trading Above Target” table. We would have done better selling it all.
The last 18 months have been rough going for financial companies. And unfortunately, that’s when we re-entered Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (NYSE: HASI), a business development company specializing in renewable energy and efficiency projects. Organized as a REIT for tax reasons, Hannon has more than doubled its total assets since 2019. And management reporting year-over-year increases in Q1 of 25 percent and 15 percent in its portfolio and managed assets, respectively. Distributable net income per share stayed on track with guidance for 10 to 13 percent annual growth, fueling robust dividend increases of 5 to 8 percent.
In December 2020, I added FirstEnergy Corp (NYSE: FE) to the Aggressive Holdings on a simple premise: Investor expectations for the outcome of the Ohio bribery scandal were far too pessimistic—and a less gloomy outcome would trigger a big rebound for the stock. As it turned out, the utility’s former management was found guilty of bribing key state officials to pass legislation favorable to the company. But Ohio contributed only about 16 percent of FirstEnergy’s earnings, meaning the state needed the utility more than the other way around. And state and federal regulators have as result focusing on the executives rather than the company, allowing fresh management to repair frayed regulatory relations.
Between mid-2020 and summer 2022, shares of Aggressive Holding National Fuel Gas (NYSE: NFG) roughly doubled—for a time exceeding my “consider taking profits” level. They’ve since retreated about -25 percent and are positioned to make another run.
Mexico’s Peso is up almost 9 percent against the US dollar since the beginning of 2022. That’s as the US Dollar Index (DXY) is up 8 percent, and has gained even more against the Euro and other developed world currencies. The Peso’s strength has made Aggressive Holding America Movil (Mexico: AMXL, NYSE: AMX) a sector outperformer over the past year.
Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX: AQN, NYSE: AQN) will update strategy on January 12 with an “Investor Update Call.” One potential course of action: The sale of its 42.49 percent interest in Aggressive Holding Atlantica Yield (NSDQ: AY). Expectations were high when Algonquin purchased ownership in the yieldco from its initial parent, bankrupt Spanish engineering firm Abengoa SA. And while the pace of drop downs to fuel growth has been tepid, the association has been positive for both sides—Atlantica’s dividend is now 6 percent higher than in December 2015, when it suspended its payout to deal with Abengoa’s cross-defaults.
Europe’s unfolding energy crisis, rising interest rates and a heavy debt load: That accounts for elevated investor skepticism this year that Italy-based Enel SpA (Italy: ENEL, OTC: ENLAY) can hold to guidance of 10 to 13 percent earnings growth or even its generous dividend.
Since the beginning of 2022, the Japanese Yen has dropped by almost -20 percent against the US dollar. That’s shrunk a 29.8 percent year-to-date local market gain in shares of dominant Japanese telecom Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (Tokyo: 9432, OTC: NTTYY) to a return of just 1.3 percent in US dollar terms.
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