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.

All three major indices traded up today with the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

(

^DJI

) trading up 191 points (1.1%) at 17,512 as of Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, 4:20 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 2,533 issues advancing vs. 578 declining with 102 unchanged.

The Utilities sector as a whole closed the day up 1.3% versus the S&P 500, which was up 1.3%. Top gainers within the Utilities sector included

GreenHunter Resources

(

GRH

), up 3.3%,

Delta Natural Gas

(

DGAS

), up 2.7%,

Spark Energy

(

SPKE

), up 4.1%,

Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora No

(

EDN

), up 1.8% and

York Water

(

YORW

), up 2.8%.

TheStreet Ratings Group would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

Spark Energy

(

SPKE

) is one of the companies that pushed the Utilities sector higher today. Spark Energy was up $0.59 (4.1%) to $14.89 on light volume. Throughout the day, 6,801 shares of Spark Energy exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 25,700 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $14.11-$14.91 after having opened the day at $14.28 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $14.30.

TheStreet Recommends

Spark Energy has a market cap of $44.5 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 1.5% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

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,

Delta Natural Gas

(

DGAS

) was up $0.56 (2.7%) to $20.98 on light volume. Throughout the day, 6,221 shares of Delta Natural Gas exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 9,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $20.24-$20.99 after having opened the day at $20.24 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $20.42.

Delta Natural Gas Company, Inc. distributes or transports natural gas in central and southeastern Kentucky. It operates through two segments, Regulated and Non-Regulated. The Regulated segment sells and distributes natural gas to its retail customers primarily in 23 rural counties. Delta Natural Gas has a market cap of $144.1 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 3.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Delta Natural Gas 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

Delta Natural Gas

as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on DGAS go as follows:

  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.1%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.75, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Although the company had a strong debt-to-equity ratio, its quick ratio of 0.88 is somewhat weak and could be cause for future problems.
  • DELTA NATURAL GAS CO 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, DELTA NATURAL GAS CO INC increased its bottom line by earning $1.18 versus $1.05 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 5.1% in earnings ($1.12 versus $1.18).
  • In its most recent trading session, DGAS has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to -$3.05 million or 31.31% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow of 31.31%, DELTA NATURAL GAS CO INC is in line with the industry average cash flow growth rate of -40.81%.

You can view the full analysis from the report here:

Delta Natural Gas 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.

GreenHunter Resources

(

GRH

) was another company that pushed the Utilities sector higher today. GreenHunter Resources was up $0.02 (3.3%) to $0.61 on light volume. Throughout the day, 82,509 shares of GreenHunter Resources exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 231,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $0.56-$0.61 after having opened the day at $0.61 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.59.

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 $21.3 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 18.0% 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.

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's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 46.35%, which is also worse than the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

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.

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.