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Executive Summary

Utilities and the Earnings Collapse That Never Happened

By Roger S. Conrad on Nov. 13, 2023

Will higher for longer interest rates derail utilities’ inflation-beating dividend growth? The Dow Jones Utility Average’s total return is 27 percentage points behind the S&P 500’s so far in 2023, a wider gap than in 1999. So obviously, the Wall Street consensus has been yes. Reality says different. In fact, no fewer than 48 of the 172 companies in my Utility Report Card coverage universe raised their 2023 guidance after releasing Q3 results. A third that many reduced guidance, but none cited higher interest rates as a primary reason. Evergy Inc (NYSE: EVRG) cut the mid-point of its annual target growth range from 7 to 5 percent. But every other company in the coverage universe affirmed previous projections. Several announced meaningful capital spending increases. And Northwestern Corp (NYSE: NWE) increased projected long-term growth following a favorable rate settlement in Montana.

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