Utility stocks are appealing for investors seeking solid investments. They pay safe dividends in good and bad times.
In fact, among the S&P 500's 10 sectors, the only one that has posted in the green during the sharp, post-Brexit declines is utilities.
Among the best utility investments in the unpredictable, post Brexit environment are two utility stocks that belong in your portfolio. Both companies have made some intelligent, strategic moves and offer solid dividends.
PG&E is a Fortune 200 energy-based holding company. The San Francisco-based company is the parent of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, California's largest investor-owned utility.
PG&E serves 16 million customers across Northern and Central California.
The stock sports a healthy 3.13% yield and a comfortable 52.5% payout ratio, which leaves room for dividend expansion. Over the past 5 years, the company has maintained its annual dividend payment at $1.82 a share, even though its free cash flow position stayed volatile due to consistent capital spending.
The company should hike annual dividends soon. In late May PG&E announced that it was raising its quarterly common stock dividend to 49 cents per share, a rise of 3.5 cents per share.
Annualizing this payment would mean $1.96 dividends per year. From a total return perspective, PG&E has performed better than regulated electric utilities in 2014 and 2015.
The stock has out-performed the S&P 500 TR index this year, underlining its appeal as a defensive investment.
With an extremely low beta of 0.18, its shares are likely to withstand any major correction in overall financial markets. With a reasonable 6%+ earnings outlook, this dividend-paying utility is a great investment.
Clearly PG&E is poised to make great gains this year.
American Electric Power has been paying stable dividends and delivering sustainable earnings while transforming itself.
Its 3.3% dividend yield backed by three successive years of rising payouts is an attraction for those looking for safe passive income.
The stock is also up more than 15% year to date.
American Electric Power is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. See how Cramer rates the stock here. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AEP? Learn more now.
American Electric has undertaken several initiatives to ensure long-term growth. One agreement with "Ohio regulators, environmental groups and other parties for long-term contracts with its coal-fired generators," is a major positive.
Launching a transmission-sparing solution provider with such companies as Duke Energy and Great Plains is another smart move.
The stock should garner substantial investor attention when rate hikes happen in 2016. Remember, regulated utilities outperformed the broader market post the first hike in 2004.
American Electric has has increased regulated exposure while trimming its vulnerability to merchant power operations. This should improve American Electric's business profile.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.