BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Utility stocks were the rage in July when investors feared a double-dip. But, in anticipation of QE2, dividend-payers trailed riskier stocks. Utilities currently comprise the cheapest U.S. sector based on earnings expectations. They also represent the most inexpensive subset of the S&P 500 despite yielding more than the U.S. 10-year Treasury bond. Here are the 10 cheapest large-cap utility stocks, from cheap to cheapest.
10. Edison International (EIX - Get Report) sells electricity in coastal and southern California. Its third-quarter profit increased 27% to $510 million, or $1.57 a share, as revenue grew 3.4%. The operating margin widened from 21% to 23%. Edison has $2 billion of cash and $12 billion of debt. Its stock trades at a trailing earnings multiple of 9.5, a forward earnings multiple of 12, a book value multiple of 1.1 and a cash flow multiple of 3.3, 34%, 5%, 32% and 39% discounts to utility peer averages. Half of the analysts covering Edison rate it "buy" and half rate it "hold."
Dividend Growth: Edison pays a dividend yield of 3.3% with a payout ratio of 32%. It has a three-year dividend growth rate of 2.8% and five-year growth of 4.7%.
Bullish Scenario: RBC Capital Markets expects Edison's stock to advance 19% to $45.Bearish Scenario: Citigroup values Edison's stock at $33, implying it is 15% above fair value.