In the past year, BCE Inc (TSX: BCE, NYSE: BCE) took hits from pandemic fallout and government pressure to cut broadband and wireless rates. And though less exposed than archrival Telus Inc (TSX: T, NYSE: TU), the company was forced to overhaul 5G strategy when equipment maker Huawei became persona non grata.
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 Holding Avangrid Inc (NYSE: AGR) hasn’t raised its dividend since July 2018. Not surprisingly, its returns have since lagged the Dow Jones Utility Average by more than 25 percentage points.
Two major developments in the past month promise a favorable reversal of fortune, even as shares have dropped roughly 10 percent to an attractive entry point.
“Keep it simple” is a best practices business maxim that’s far easier to preach than practice. But when a company consistently sticks to it, superior results follow—as they have for nearly 20 years at Michigan electric and gas utility CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS).
Barely a century ago, Americans enjoyed plentiful, clean and practically free drinking water. Now ensuring safe supplies and treating waste is an increasingly essential and rapidly growing $200 billion plus global market. Among the surest beneficiaries: The handful of US investor owned utilities, headlined by Conservative Holding Essential Utilities (NYSE: WTRG).
In the May 23 Utility Roundup, I highlighted Southern Company’s (NYSE: SO) “secret weapon” in its odyssey to bring new nuclear construction over the finish line at the Vogtle site in Georgia: Observation of the startup and two years of operations at four facilities in China, built on the same AP1000 reactor model.
Electric utilities measure life of key assets in decades, rather than months or years. Success not only requires making the right call on what in invest in, but being flexible enough to shift course when circumstances change.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) has demonstrated both this month, shelving its Atlantic Coast Pipeline project with Dominion Energy (NYSE: D). The company’s natural gas power plants will be in business for a while, enabling retirement of 6.5 gigawatts of coal capacity since 2010. The utility plans to retire 900 megawatts more by 2025, while shortening lives of 7.7 GW in North Carolina and Indiana.
Conservative Holding Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) has traded as high as $162 and as low as $88 this year. That volatility contrasts sharply with the steady business performance of the diversified utility and midstream energy company, including the robust 8 percent dividend boost this spring.
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