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Best Utilities Stocks of 2011

by
December 28, 2011 12:17 pm
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Here’s a quick look at nine of the best-performing utilities stocks of the past year.

Atlas Energy (NYSE: ATLS) is up more than 65% year to date, as well as up almost 90% from the 52-low in October. The Pennsylvania-based natural gas processor announced in October the formation of an MLP focused on exploration and production. Atlas has a market cap of $1.2 billion, a long-term EPS growth forecast of 49.5% and a dividend yield of 3.9%. The stock has outperformed competitors such as Continental Resources (NYSE: CR) and Crosstex Energy (NASDAQ: XTXI) year to date.

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BIP) is up more than 39% since the beginning of the year. This limited partnership has stakes in ports, timberlands, power transmission assets, coal terminals and railroads, among others, worldwide. The $4.4 billion market cap market cap company has a dividend yield of 5.0% and an operating margin better than the industry average. Year to date, the stock has outperformed competitors Calpine (NYSE: CPN) and Ameren (NYSE: AEE).

CenterPoint Energy (NYSE: CNP) shares are trading almost 35% higher year to date, but they are more than 4% below the 52-week high. The Houston-based diversified utility has been noted for its strong quarterly dividend history and favorable long-term multiyear growth rates. Its market cap is $8.6 billion and its dividend yield is 3.9%. Year to date, the stock has outperformed competitors such as American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL).

NiSource (NYSE: NI) is up more than 40% since the beginning of the year, as well as being about 11% higher than a month ago. The company has been profitable in each of the past ten years and has paid quarterly dividends since 1984. It has a market cap is $6.6 billion, a dividend yield of 4.0% and an operating margin that is better than the industry average. Year to date, the stock has outperformed Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) and Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK).

ONEOK (NYSE: OKE) is up more than 60% year to date and trading around a multiyear high. Earlier this month, this natural gas distributor announced it would exit the retail marketing business by selling a subsidiary. This Tulsa-based company is an S&P 500 component with a market cap of $8.9 billion and a dividend yield of 2.6%. The stock has outperformed such peers as Dynegy (NYSE: DYN) and OGE Energy (NYSE: OGE) since the beginning of the year.

PNM Resources (NYSE: PNM) shares are trading more than 45% higher year to date, despite a recent pullback. Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) downgraded the stock on regulatory concerns, but the share price is back up more than 7% in the past week. The New Mexico-based energy company has a market cap of $1.6 billion and a long-range EPS growth forecast of 27.0%. Year to date, the stock has outperformed American Electric Power and El Paso Electric (NYSE: EE).

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN) shares are selling more than 35% higher year to date and have been in multiyear high territory this past week. This North Carolina-based electricity distributor is in the process of merging with Duke Energy. The merger is expected to be completed in March. Progress Energy’s market cap is $16.5 billion. The dividend yield is 4.4%. The stock has outperformed Duke Energy and peer NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE) since the beginning of the year.

Southern Union (NYSE: SUG) is up almost 80% year to date. Most of that rise came in July, when Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE: ETE) and Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) were in a bidding war to acquire Southern Union. Shareholders approved the merger with Energy Transfer Equity earlier this month. Southern Union is a Houston-based natural gas producer with a market cap is $5.3 billion, a dividend yield of 1.4%, and an operating margin higher than the industry average.

Targa Resources (NYSE: TRGP) is up more than 57% year to date and more than 25% higher just in the past month. The Houston-based company announced management changes in early December. This natural gas distributor has a market cap of $1.7 billion and a dividend yield of 3.0%. Its long-range EPS growth forecast is 15.5%. While the stock underperformed ONEOK and Southern Union since the beginning of the year, it easily outpaced the broader markets.


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