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Portfolio Article

Strong Q1 Results Portend Solid Returns

By Roger S. Conrad on May. 9, 2024
Roughly 3 in 4 Utility Report Card companies have released their calendar Q1 results and updated guidance. Most of the rest should do so in the next week to 10 days. This issue’s company-by-company URC comments highlight what investors need to know about the results so far. That includes the 29 portfolio utilities issuing their numbers. And I’ll have my thoughts on the rest in next’s month’s issue, or beforehand for portfolio recommendations if action is needed.

When Performance is Jagged Balance is Best

By Roger S. Conrad on Apr. 3, 2024
To pivot or not to pivot—That’s the question the Federal Reserve continues to ponder in spring of 2024. Every stray data point on inflation seems to heighten the sense of inertia. And with benchmark interest rates indeed staying higher for longer, investors’ fear of debt and general disinterest in dividends persists. But there are signs sentiment is at last starting to shift. Changing allocations and a highly volatile quarterly payout makes the iShares Select Dividend ETF (NYSE: DVY) a poor proxy or substitute for a well-chosen portfolio of dividend stocks. But the ETF does follow the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index of 99 high yielding stocks and has definitively resumed the uptrend it began in late October.

Business Performance is Everything

By Roger S. Conrad on Mar. 11, 2024

Last month, I highlighted three key takeaways, drawn from the Q4 results and guidance updates of Utility Report Card members I’d seen so far. They were: Number one, results and guidance demonstrated very healthy and growing business. Recommended companies met my chief criterion for continuing to own them, as well as add to current positions when appropriate. Second, every company affirmed its guidance for earnings growth as well as capital spending plans fueling it. And more than a few actually raised long-term investment targets.

Strong Earnings Portend Big Gains for the Patient

By Roger S. Conrad on Feb. 12, 2024

Dividend increases—even big ones—don’t necessarily move stock prices. That much is clear from the mostly lackluster year-to-date performance of the 24 Utility Report Card companies raising dividends so far in 2024. Over time, however, prices of dividend paying stocks will follow payouts higher. And in the meantime, there are few more reliable outward signs of a company’s inner grace—that is, that the underlying business is still solid and the underlying value proposition of the stock is intact.

A Solid 2023 but a Better 2024

By Roger S. Conrad on Jan. 11, 2024

Calendar year 2023 is in the books. Our Aggressive Holdings managed a 9 percent average return. Conservative Holdings dropped -2.6 percent and the Top 10 DRIPs lost -1.9 percent. Those returns compare to a -5.2 percent decline in the Dow Jones Utility Average. Other indexes relevant to portfolio holdings include the Alerian MLP Index (up 25.4 percent), iShares Select Dividend ETF (up 1 percent), the Nasdaq Clean Energy Index (-9.8 percent) the S&P Energy Index (-1.4 percent) and the S&P Telecom Services Index (up 2.7 percent).

Rotation or Recession, We’re Ready

By Roger S. Conrad on Dec. 11, 2023

Will a massive sector rotation propel market averages to new heights in 2024? Or will a bursting of Big Tech’s valuation bubble combine with a weakening economy and relentless upward pressure on interest rates to send the autumn recovery into full reverse? Either way, the stocks in the CUI Aggressive, Conservative and Top 10 Holdings portfolios are ready. That follows the release of strong Q3 results and guidance updates that frankly seemed to shock many.

Hunting High Quality Stocks at Dream Buy Prices

By Roger S. Conrad on Nov. 13, 2023

The Dow Jones Utility Average closed last week roughly -22 percent off the all-time high of 1077 reached in April 2022. The S&P Utilities is about as far below its all-time high from September last year. And both indexes have underperformed the S&P 500 by about 40 percentage points since making those highs. That’s pretty substantial underperformance. And the same is true for dividend-paying sectors across the board—Not much lately has beaten the humble money market fund.

Look to Dream Buys when Stocks Fall

By Roger S. Conrad on Oct. 9, 2023

Let’s not sugarcoat it: Utility stocks are having one of their worst years in quite a while. And the going has been even worse for a whole host of companies in the Utility Report Card coverage universe, especially renewable energy stocks and almost all small-to-mid-sized communications companies. The damage is there to see in this issue’s URC comments, which highlight total returns for the first nine months of 2023.

Outperforming Businesses Ultimately Mean Outperforming Stocks

By Roger S. Conrad on Sep. 11, 2023

In the short-term, the stock market is basically a popularity contest. Investors large and small chase the upside momentum of the hottest themes. Concepts like what a business is actually worth are given lip service at best. And every once in a while, things run so far in one direction that even safe, generous dividends lose their luster. But if you’ve invested for more than a cycle or two, you’ve by now learned the long-term market is more of a weighing machine. And outperforming businesses that gain strength and size over time are eventually rewarded with higher stock prices.

What You Need to Know About Utilities’ Q2 Earnings

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 7, 2023

When you’re a long-term investor, momentum isn’t always going to flow your way. And when it’s against you—whatever the reason—it can be intensely frustrating, no matter how much in dividends you’re collecting. The greatest danger is it’s all too easy to conflate stock market weakness with a truly unraveling business. You may bail out prematurely from a company that’s only undergoing a temporary setback. Or alternatively, you might hold onto a stock that’s only just beginning its descent, as declining sales lead to dividend cuts and worse.



Roger S. Conrad needs no introduction to individual and professional investors, many of whom have profited from his decades of experience uncovering the best dividend-paying stocks for accumulating sustainable wealth. Roger b