On May 24, the Dow Jones Utility Average made a new all-time high. Over the next week or so it followed the S&P 500 lower, testing its 50-day moving average on several occasions before breaking out to another new high last week. That’s a stark contrast with the broad market, which has been alternatively puncturing support and failing to break resistance.
Management’s rationale is identical to that of other telecoms cutting the past couple years. It needs more cash to tackle a wall of pending debt maturities, even as capital spending needs pick up for next generation 5-G wireless and competition pressures 4-G revenues.
There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush from a big short-term gain in a stock. My son Nate enjoyed that feeling this week by picking up on a Utility Report Card recommendation of El Paso Electric (NYSE: EE). This week, the stock surged when a JP Morgan fund offered $68.50 per share in cash for the company.
From its humble beginnings as the old Southwestern Bell, AT&T Inc (NYSE: T) emerged from the competitive free-for-all following 1996 deregulation as one of America’s big two telecoms. And revenues, earnings and dividends have risen consistently ever since.
Less than two decades ago, AES Corp (NYSE: AES) was one false step from bankruptcy. That’s when management dramatically slashed debt, streamlined its portfolio and modernized its fleet and systems with the most advanced power technology.
Portfolio high grading in good times will prevent portfolio-wrecking losses when the macro picture worsens. We’ve had Aggressive Holding Suez (Paris: SEV, OTC: SZEVY) on a very short leash the past few months. Now, thanks to strong first quarter numbers and guidance, it’s again a buy.
After a blazing first quarter 2019, shares of best in class utilities and essential services companies have largely stalled over the past month. Not only is the Dow Jones Utility Average within a point of where it was when the April issue went to post. But all month long, it never strayed more than a couple percentage points in either direction.
Conservative Holding Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX: AQN, NYSE: AQN) has roughly $5 billion in market capitalization. It’s sparsely represented in indexes and individual investors hold nearly half the float. The result is few US-based analysts cover the stock, despite the fact that US operations generated 95 percent of the company’s 2018 revenue.
Until last month, Consolidated Communications (NSDQ: CNSL) was an anomaly in the wireline telecom business: The only company in the sector that had not cut its dividend at least once, dating back to the July 2005 initial public offering.
But starting this summer, Consolidated will pay no dividend, using the savings to pay off debt. I highlight the details in the April 29 Income Insights “Comcast’s Big Gains are its Smaller Rivals’ Pain".
Last September, I highlighted opportunities resulting from what was then a great deal of turbulence in emerging markets. By December, the selloff had finally caught up to the US market. For the highest quality global utilities like Enel SpA (Italy: ENEL, OTC: ENLAY), however, the bottom had been in since October. As a result, they were havens during the worst of the selling and went on to rally strongly in the first quarter.
Roger's favorite utilities for investors seeking superior price appreciation by taking calculated risks.
Harness the tried and true wealth-building power of rising dividends.
Nothing compounds wealth like reinvesting a rising stream of dividends.
Warning: Falling Dividends.
Roger's current take and vital statistics on more than 200 essential-services stocks.