US/China trade turmoil, rising political tensions in Hong Kong and erratic Australian regulation have driven down shares of CLP Holdings (Hong Kong: 2, OTC: CLPHY) below our buy target of USD11. Now’s the time to pick up shares of this Aggressive Holding.
In summer 2013, Exelon Corp (NYSE: EXC) cut its quarterly payout from 52.5 cents to 31 cents per share. The 41 percent reduction was a tacit admission that no US carbon tax would save the nation’s largest nuclear power fleet from falling wholesale electricity prices.
When this issue went to post, not every company in our Utility Report Card coverage universe or model portfolios had released its second quarter numbers. But there’s enough available information to discern several key takeaways.
First, even in these essential service businesses, there’s evidence the US economy has lost some steam. One place that’s shown up is industrial sales of the country’s largest electric utilities.
UK-based integrated energy company Centrica Plc (London: CNA, OTC: CPYYY) will cut its semi-annual dividend payable in November to GBP1.50 per share, from the year ago rate of GBP3.60. Management also announced a reduction in the “Final” dividend to be declared in February from GBP8.40 to GBP3.50 per share.
How low can interest rates go? The answer likely depends on how much the US economy slows in coming months and how aggressively the Federal Reserve responds. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield still hasn’t fallen as far as it did in summer 2016, or even in July 2012 when Washington was playing chicken with the possibility of a first ever US government default.
It’s three and a half years since Kinder Morgan Inc (NYSE: KMI) shocked its investors with a 75 percent dividend cut. And it’s a fair bet many former shareholders are still steering clear. That’s a shame, given the stock’s nearly 40 percent return so far in 2019.
Communications has been a tough business throughout North America for years. But Conservative Holding BCE Inc (TSX: BCE, NYSE: BCE) has consistently gained revenue and market share. The company today operates Canada’s Best in class network on the verge of 5-G adoption.
No stock is a buy at any price. And even the best-run company can get so expensive that realizing additional upside becomes an almost impossible slog. That’s not been the case so far this bull market for the top players in the US utility sector. But if we’re not there yet, we’re getting very close to it.
So far, this has been a very good year to buy and hold utility stocks. The Dow Jones Utility Average including dividends returned 15.4 percent in the first half of the year. Our 2019 picks from the January article did even better with an 18 percent average total return. That beat our pans’ 6 percent return by a 3-to-1 margin.
Buckeye Partners’ (NYSE: BPL) first quarter earnings results had all the hallmarks of a company careening towards another distribution cut. Then Australian private infrastructure fund IFM came along with a $41.50 per unit all-cash takeover offer. That’s given long-suffering unitholders their best opportunity to cash out since early 2018.
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Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.