The utilities sector is made up of companies that provide electricity, natural gas, water, sewage and other services to homes and businesses. Many of these companies are heavily regulated, and include Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), American Electric Power Co. Inc. (AEP), and Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED). Utilities stocks, as represented by the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU), have dramatically outperformed the broader market, posting a total return of -1.9% compared to the S&P 500's total return of -12.1% over the past 12 months. These market performance numbers and the statistics in the tables below are as of March 17.

Here are the top 3 utilities stocks with the best value, the fastest earnings growth, and the most momentum.

Best Value Utilities Stocks

These are the utilities stocks with the lowest 12-month trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Because profits can be returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, a low P/E ratio shows you’re paying less for each dollar of profit generated.

Best Value Utilities Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing P/E Ratio
NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) 24.89 6.2  1.5
CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP)           12.48 6.3 9.4
PPL Corp. (PPL)                 23.66 18.2 10.0

Source: YCharts

  • NRG Energy Inc.: NRG Energy is an integrated power company that produces, sells, and distributes energy and energy services. The company provides energy production and cogeneration facilities, thermal energy production, and energy resource facilities.
  • CenterPoint Energy Inc.: CenterPoint Energy is a public utility holding company that, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates electric transmission and distribution facilities, and natural gas distribution facilities. The company announced in February that John W. Somerhalder II was appointed interim President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He succeeded Scott M. Prochazka, who stepped down as President and CEO.
  • PPL Corp.: PPL is an energy and utility holding company that, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. The company announced in late February that Chairman and CEO William H. Spence will be retiring on June 1 from his role as CEO. He will be succeeded by President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Vincent Sorgi.

Fastest Growing Utilities Stocks

These are the utilities stocks with the highest year-over-year (YOY) earnings per share (EPS) growth for the most recent quarter. Rising earnings show that a company’s business is growing and is generating more money that it can reinvest or return to shareholders.

Fastest Growing Utilities Stocks

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) EPS Growth (%)
Exelon Corp. (EXC)                30.51 29.7 393.8
Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (PNW)           68.11 7.7 147.8
NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE)              201.37 98.5 126.1

Source: YCharts

  • Exelon Corp.: Exelon is a utility services holding company that, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation and distribution of energy.
  • Pinnacle West Capital Corp.: Pinnacle West Capital is a utility holding company that, through its subsidiaries, engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.
  • NextEra Energy Inc.: NextEra is an electric power and energy infrastructure company that generates electricity through wind, solar, and natural gas. Through its subsidiaries, the company also operates several commercial nuclear power units.

Utilities Stocks with the Most Momentum

These are the utilities stocks that had the highest total return over the last 12 months.

Utilities Stocks with the Most Momentum

                    

 

 

 

Price ($) Market Cap ($B) 12-Month Trailing Total Return (%)
WEC Energy Group Inc. (WEC) 92.68 29.2 20.7
American Water Works Co. Inc. (AWK)          118.81 21.5 14.2
Eversource Energy (ES) 77.18 25.5 10.5
S&P 500 (SPY) N/A N/A -12.1
Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU) N/A N/A -1.9

Source: YCharts

  • WEC Energy Group Inc.: WEC Energy Group is a holding company that provides electricity and natural gas to individual consumers and businesses. The company manages electric and natural gas distribution and transmission lines, as well as power plants. The company announced in February that it was increasing its ownership interest from 80% to 90% in three separate Midwest wind-farms as part of its plan to expand its renewable energy assets. One of those wind-farms includes Blooming Grove Wind Farm, in which the company just recently acquired an 80% ownership interest in January.
  • American Water Works Co. Inc.: American Water Works is a holding company that provides water, wastewater, and other water-related services. The company announced in December that President and CEO Susan Story will step down on April 1, to be succeeded by COO Walter Lynch.
  • Eversource Energy: Eversource Energy is a utility holding company that engages in the generation, transmission, and distribution of natural gas and electricity. The company announced in late February that it has agreed to purchase Columbia Gas for $1.1 billion from NiSource Inc. (NI).