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Executive Summary

Eye on the Bottom Line: Our Companies Have Never Been Stronger

By Roger S. Conrad on Mar. 11, 2024

So far in 2024, the Dow Jones Utility Average lags the S&P 500 by nearly 10 percentage points. But over the past month, buying interest has picked up for at least a handful of CUI portfolio companies. Leading the way are nuclear powered Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) and Vistra Energy (NYSE: VST), with year-to-date gains of 46 and 57 percent respectively. But even underperforming Avangrid Inc (NYSE: AGR) now has a double-digit 2024 return, as parent Iberdrola SA (Spain: IBE, OTC: IBDRY) has made a non-binding all-cash takeover offer that’s likely to go higher. I continue to believe utilities as a sector won’t really capture upside momentum until there’s a genuine Federal Reserve pivot to lower interest rates. And with the central bank reactive as ever to the latest data point, investors have no choice but to be patient. But with all but a handful of calendar Q4 earnings in for the 172 Utility Report Card members, it’s equally clear that utilities’ underlying businesses are booming. Not only did the vast majority of companies we track meet or beat 2023 guidance. But not one cut its longer-term guidance. Most actually raised the capital spending behind earnings growth. And AES Corp (NYSE: AES) increased its projected long-term growth rate to 7 to 9 percent from the previous 6 to 8 percent.

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