NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Pacific Gas and Electric (PCG) - Get Report -- one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the U.S. -- will report second-quarter earnings Wednesday before the opening bell. As the company prepares to report its results, its shares are down 3% on the year and roughly 12% in the past six months, under performing the broader indexes.
The declines in the company's share price mirrors the struggles PG&E has faced to grow revenue, prompting analysts to cut their average earnings-per-share (EPS) projections for the just ended quarter by 6.5% in the past three months, from 76 cents a share to 71 cents. Second-quarter revenue, meanwhile, is projected to fall almost half of one percent to $3.94 billion.
Still, even amid tepid revenue results, including flat sales in the first quarter that missed analysts quarterly growth estimates, the San Francisco-based company continues to increase operating earnings at an incredible rate, including a 61% year-over-year jump in the first quarter. PG&E, which services almost 10 million customers in California for its electricity and gas segments, has adopted various cost-cutting measures to drive its profit margins higher.
This underscores the degree to which PG&E's infrastructure investments, adopted to boost capacity and the number of people it can effectively service, is paying off. At the same time, PG&E continues to look for ways to help its customers reduce their utility bills, showing it can offer the best of both worlds -- be an environmental leader with a focus on conservation without sacrificing profits.
And for fiscal 2016, analysts are projecting the utility company will earn $3.84 a share. That implies an 11% year-over-year growth above the $3.43 per share 2015 levels. PG&E won't be hurt from trying to gain customers' trust by helping them save money on their utility bills, since it still expects its 2016 results to reverse its full-year 2015 projected earnings decline of 1.2%.
In other words, the time to own PG&E is now, especially with its shares trading cheaply at just 13 times forward estimates against a forward P/E of 17 for the S&P 500 (SPX) index. So with its shares trading at around $51, or some 10% below its average analyst 12-month price target of $57, there is tons of value in the shares, despite the lowered estimates.
Also note that the stock pays a 44-cent quarterly dividend that yields 3.65% annually. That is almost twice the 2% annual yield paid out by the average company in the S&P 500 index. Not to mention, utility stocks are safe because consumers will always need heat, water and electricity, regardless of the data driving the market.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no position in the stocks mentioned.