For almost three years, the boring and conservative utility stocks were among the best performing on Wall Street. Serving as bond proxies, they gave income investors a degree of safety and consistent income. A new report from Deutsche Bank not only says that comparisons with last year could be difficult, but the forward path is also not as bright as before.
The Deutsche Bank analysts still have a large coverage universe, and eight utility stocks are rated Buy. However, some have very little upside to the Deutsche Bank price objective. We screened the list for Buy-rated stocks with good upside to target levels. The four we chose are Calpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN), Dynegy Inc. (NYSE: DYN), Edison International (NYSE: EIX) and Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC).
Calpine owns and operates primarily natural gas-fired and geothermal power plants in North America and has a significant presence in major competitive wholesale power markets in California, Texas and the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The company sells wholesale power, steam, capacity, renewable energy credits and ancillary services to its customers, which include utilities, independent electric system operators, industrial and agricultural companies, retail power providers, municipalities, power marketers and others.
The Deutsche Bank price target for the stock, which does not pay a dividend, is lowered to $28 from $31. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $25.38. Shares closed Wednesday at $22.63.
This utility has nearly 26,000 megawatts of power generation capacity and two retail electricity companies. Dynegy is capable of supplying 20 million homes with safe, reliable and economic energy. Homefield Energy and Dynegy Energy Services are retail electricity providers serving businesses and residents in Illinois.
Some Wall Street analysts expect that Dynegy may be able to achieve a stellar 12% free-cash-flow per share compounded annual growth rate over the next five years. There is also a possibility of a share buyback worth $1.7 billion during 2015 to 2019, at the present commodity prices, or about 40% of the company’s current market cap. The expected outstanding earnings may be driven by merger synergies and share buybacks, even if there is no improvement in commodity prices.
The Deutsche Bank price target is raised to $43 from $41, and the consensus estimate is at $39.06. The stock closed Wednesday at $33.28 a share.
Back in December, Edison International raised the quarterly dividend paid to shareholders by 17.6%, and another increase could be on the map for this year. That signals a strong commitment to shareholders. The company generates electricity through hydroelectric, diesel, natural gas, gas fueled, combustion turbine, nuclear and photovoltaic sources. It supplies electricity primarily to residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and other customers, as well as public authorities through transmission and distribution networks.
Edison investors are paid a 2.77% dividend. The UBS price objective is $69, and the consensus target is $69.88. The stock closed Wednesday at $60.01.
The nation’s leading competitive energy provider had 2014 revenues of approximately $27.4 billion. Headquartered in Chicago, Exelon does business in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Exelon is one of the largest competitive U.S. power generators, with approximately 32,500 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation’s cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets.
The company’s Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to more than 2.5 million residential, public sector and business customers, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 100. Exelon’s utilities deliver electricity and natural gas to more than 7.8 million customers in central Maryland, northern Illinois and southeastern Pennsylvania.
Exelon investors are paid a very respectable 3.75% dividend. Deutsche Bank puts a $42 price target on the stock, down from $43. The consensus target is $38, and the stock closed Wednesday at $33.11.
The game is close to over for the utility trade, as evidenced by the fact that two of the Deutsche Bank stocks with the biggest upside pay no dividend. That said, the longer the Federal Reserve delays raising interest rates, the longer the string can play out.