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NiSource Inc (NI): 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

NiSource ( NI) pushed the Utilities sector lower today making it today's featured Utilities laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, NiSource fell $0.37 (-1.3%) to $27.69 on average volume. Throughout the day, 2,035,918 shares of NiSource exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2,132,300 shares. The stock ranged in price between $27.40-$27.96 after having opened the day at $27.81 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $28.06. Other companies within the Utilities sector that declined today were: American DG Energy ( ADGE), down 10.3%, Inergy L.P ( NRGY), down 4.5%, Just Energy Group ( JE), down 3.8% and Summit Midstream Partners ( SMLP), down 3.7%.

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NiSource Inc., an energy holding company, through its subsidiaries, provides natural gas, electricity, and other products and services. It operates in three segments: Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Transmission and Storage Operations, and Electric Operations. NiSource has a market cap of $8.6 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.7, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 12.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate NiSource a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 7 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates NiSource as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, growth in earnings per share, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

On the positive front, Energy Company of Parana ( ELP), up 3.1% was a gainer within the utilities sector with NRG Energy ( NRG) 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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