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Northeast Utilities (NU): Today's Featured Utilities Laggard

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

Northeast Utilities ( NU) pushed the Utilities sector lower today making it today's featured Utilities laggard. The sector as a whole was unchanged today. By the end of trading, Northeast Utilities fell $0.45 (-1.0%) to $44.49 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1,535,955 shares of Northeast Utilities exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,425,400 shares. The stock ranged in price between $44.23-$44.94 after having opened the day at $44.92 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $44.94. Other companies within the Utilities sector that declined today were: Companhia De Saneamento Basico Do Estado De ( SBS), down 5.9%, Ocean Power Technologies ( OPTT), down 4.8%, U.S. Geothermal ( HTM), down 3.2% and Energy Company of Parana ( ELP), down 2.8%.

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Northeast Utilities, a public utility company, through its subsidiaries, engages in the energy delivery business. It operates in four segments: Electric Distribution, Electric Transmission, Natural Gas Distribution, and Other. Northeast Utilities has a market cap of $13.9 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.4, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 15.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Northeast Utilities as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

On the positive front, Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras ( EBR.B), down 5.8%, Pure Cycle Corporation ( PCYO), down 4.9%, Huaneng Power International ( HNP), down 3.9% and American Midstream Partners ( AMID), down 3.6% , were all gainers within the utilities sector with ONEOK ( OKE) being today's featured utilities sector leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the utilities sector could consider Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) while those bearish on the utilities sector could consider ProShares UltraShort Utilities ( SDP).

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