Zugegeben. Manche US-Kollegen, gerade aus dem Finanzsektor, sind manchmal in ihren Gedankengängen nicht so einfach nachzuvollziehen. Aber es macht mir persönlich immer wieder Freude, meine ehemaligen Redaktionskollegen von Personal Finance bzw. deren Beiträge zu lesen. Der eine oder andere Gedanke ist immer dabei, den man selbst weiterführen kann. Gerade an einem Tag wie diesem, wo bei uns in Deutschland wegen mangelnder Impulse und einem fehlenden US-Handel der Drive auf dem Parkett fehlt.

Jüngst hat sich Roger Conrad, Redakteur von Utility Forecaster und Personal Finance mal wieder auf moneyshow.com zu Wort gemeldet. Anbei poste ich seinen Beitrag. Wie immer lesenswert. Originaltitel: Two Utilities That Have What It Takes.

Not everything survived the historic economic and credit stress tests of the past two years-plus.  Many weak and debt-burdened businesses found once-outsized dividends too heavy to bear. But as the economy bounces back, the risks of strong companies stumbling are diminishing.

[Also,] credit risk continues to fall. A year ago, BBB-rated companies were forced to offer yields as much as ten percentage points above US Treasuries. Today, BB-rated debt spreads are less than half that. Low interest rates also mean higher earnings, as companies refinance existing debt and launch new projects more cheaply.

Electric utilities were the last major sector to succumb to the economic/market meltdown that began in mid-2007. Half a decade of cutting debt and operating risk—coupled with recession resistant businesses—left balance sheets and dividends the strongest and best protected in half a century.

Ironically, despite solid business performance, utes have lagged the broad stock market since the rally began in March. To some extent, that’s because they didn’t fall nearly as far during the downturn. But it also begs the question whether the market is reacting to challenges the sector faces.

Chief among these head winds is the substantial capital expenditures electrics face to feed growing demand and to reduce power plant emissions over the next decade. Carbon dioxide regulation is wending its way through Congress. But even if that effort fails, the Environmental Protection Agency is already planning new rules.

Meanwhile, 33 states and the District of Columbia have mandates in place for utilities to convert up to [one-third] of their generation to renewables in the next ten to 20 years. If utilities can recover this capital spending in electricity rates and prices, it will boost their earnings and dividends. If they can’t, the result will be lower credit ratings, dividend cuts and, in some cases, bankruptcy.

The difference-maker is regulation. Electrics operating in predictable regulatory environments will be able to make the investment profitably. Those in states with a so-called pro-consumer bias are headed for trouble.

Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) and Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) increased dividends this year by an average of 6%. Meanwhile, credit ratings and earnings guidance have remained steady, and borrowing rates have plunged.

The bad news is the recession has toughened regulatory environments across the nation. The good news is that’s still not true where Dominion (Virginia) and Xcel (Colorado, Minnesota, six Midwestern states) [operate]. The best sign is rate settlements [they] have forged in recent weeks.

As long as that’s the case, our utes’ share prices will eventually catch up with the market. In the meantime, [both] are Buys—Dominion up to $40 and Xcel Energy to $22. (Dominion closed above $39 Monday, while Xcel closed at around $21—Editor.)

Mein Tipp: Die angesprochenen Aktien sollte man sich einmal anschauen….

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