Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

The Utilities sector as a whole closed the day down 3.0% versus the S&P 500, which was down 0.3%. Laggards within the Utilities sector included

American DG Energy

(

ADGE

), down 1.8%,

U S Geothermal

(

HTM

), down 4.4%,

GreenHunter Resources

(

GRH

), down 8.9%,

Gas Natural

(

EGAS

), down 1.9% and

Spark Energy

(

SPKE

), down 2.7%.

TheStreet Ratings Group would like to highlight 3 stocks that pushed the sector lower today:

Gas Natural

(

EGAS

) is one of the companies that pushed the Utilities sector lower today. Gas Natural was down $0.18 (1.9%) to $9.50 on average volume. Throughout the day, 31,255 shares of Gas Natural exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 33,700 shares. The stock ranged in price between $9.50-$9.65 after having opened the day at $9.61 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $9.68.

Gas Natural Inc. is engaged in the distribution and sale of natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. It operates through Natural Gas Operations, Marketing and Production Operations, and Pipeline Operations segments. Gas Natural has a market cap of $101.0 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 12.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there is 1 analyst who rates Gas Natural a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

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TheStreet Ratings rates

Gas Natural

as a

hold

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and increase in stock price during the past year. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on EGAS go as follows:

  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 107.03% to $0.19 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, GAS NATURAL INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -49.03%.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.71, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.16 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • EGAS, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 5.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.0%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • GAS NATURAL INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GAS NATURAL INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.71 versus $0.48 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 4.2% in earnings ($0.68 versus $0.71).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Gas Utilities industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 47.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$1.01 million to -$1.48 million.

You can view the full analysis from the report here:

Gas Natural Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

At the close,

GreenHunter Resources

(

GRH

) was down $0.08 (8.9%) to $0.76 on light volume. Throughout the day, 152,324 shares of GreenHunter Resources exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 255,300 shares. The stock ranged in price between $0.74-$0.83 after having opened the day at $0.83 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.84.

GreenHunter Resources, Inc., an environmental services company, provides water management solutions in the United States. It offers Total Water Management Solutions to the oilfield, including unconventional oil and natural gas shale resource plays. GreenHunter Resources has a market cap of $29.8 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 16.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 3 analysts who rate GreenHunter Resources a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreet Ratings rates

GreenHunter Resources

as a

sell

. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally high debt management risk and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on GRH go as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Energy Equipment & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 625.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$0.37 million to -$2.69 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, GREENHUNTER RESOURCES INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $0.09 million or 60.96% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • GRH's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.97 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.40 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.
  • GRH has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 20.00% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.

You can view the full analysis from the report here:

GreenHunter Resources Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

U S Geothermal

(

HTM

) was another company that pushed the Utilities sector lower today. U S Geothermal was down $0.02 (4.4%) to $0.48 on average volume. Throughout the day, 301,335 shares of U S Geothermal exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 217,000 shares. The stock ranged in price between $0.47-$0.51 after having opened the day at $0.51 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.50.

U S Geothermal has a market cap of $52.9 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 8.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are no analysts who rate U S Geothermal a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.