AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) still sells for less than 8.7 times expected 2021 earnings. And PPL Corp (NYSE: PPL) yields 2.5 percentage points more than the Dow Jones Utility Average. Why the deep discounts? Because neither company’s management has come clean on how much they intend to cut dividends after completing major transactions early next year, other than to say they intend to “right size.”
The combination of heavy debt and pressured revenue drove dividends cuts at 25 of the essential services companies in our Utility Report Card coverage universe last year. It triggered 16 in 2019 and five more so far this year, last month AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) and Singapore Telecom (Singapore: ST, OTC: SGAPY).
Heavy debt and revenue under pressure: Those are always the two biggest risks to dividends. And when combined, a cut is usually on the way. Both are common maladies for the four remaining companies on my Endangered Dividends List.
Three energy utilities “down under” have announced next semi-annual dividends will be lower than the previous year’s: AGL Energy (ASX: AGL, OTC: AGLXY) by -12.8 percent, Contact Energy (NZ: CEN, OTC: COENF) by -12.5 percent and Origin Energy (ASX: ORG, OTC: OGFGY) by -16.8 percent.
Zero companies in our Utility Report Card coverage universe announced dividend cuts last month. To date, only a small number have shared calendar Q4 results and guidance. But that’s still a very good sign managements are comfortable with steps taken so far to deal with what for most are still quite challenging business conditions.
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Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.