The near- to intermediate-term future looks bright for utility stocks and the sector’s prospects for earnings and dividend growth. However, with the Dow Jones Utility Average making new highs, investors must consider how much of this good news the market has priced in to sector favorites.
Renewable energy uses to be seen as a threat to the existing utility sector. But now solar investments have filtered into utilities’ regulated service territories. But which part of the renewable market and how those markets are played can make a significant difference in a given company’s outcome.
Around the world and regardless of where they’re based, utilities returns on capital expenditures depend on regulatory decisions. Recent political changes have led to regulatory shifts with significant implications for this sector. Grab your passport, and let’s take a look at these recent changes.
The Dow Jones Utility Average has returned more than 10 percent since early December 2016, outperforming the S&P 500 by a few percentage points. It’s now reached valuations where the risk-reward balance skews to the downside. In this environment, investors should evaluate the macro forces that could bat these stocks about in coming months.
Investors have sold utility stocks en masse, using concerns that rising interest rates will erode the value of future dividends as an excuse to take profits after last year’s rally. This is the pullback we’ve been waiting for, but there could be more downside in store. We highlight two high-quality names to buy now.
Long-term supply contracts ensure that utility yieldcos should maintain their dividends even if the boom in renewable-energy installations goes bust. However, lofty valuations suggest that the market has already priced in a great deal of upside. Tread carefully.
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