BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks dropped yesterday as investors digested a contraction in service industries and braced for new jobs data from the government. These medium-sized utilities hit 52-week highs amid demand for dividend-paying stocks.

OGE Energy ( OGE - Get Report) rose 0.4% to $35.76. The Oklahoma-based utility has risen 10% during the past month.

Snapshot: Third-quarter net income declined 2% to $137 million, or $1.40 a share, as revenue fell 33% to $845 million. OGE Energy's gross margin rose from 23% to 35%, and its operating margin widened from 18% to 27%. The company's 0.2 quick ratio and $2 million of cash demonstrate meager liquidity. Its 1.2 debt-to-equity ratio reflects sizable leverage, which is common for utilities.

Our take: We rate OGE Energy "buy." Unlike some of its larger peers, the company remained profitable during the recession and worked to repair its balance sheet. Although OGE's cash balance has dwindled since the year-earlier quarter, the company has cut its debt by 5% to $2.5 billion. We give OGE Energy a financial strength score of 8.9 out of 10, higher than the "buy"-list average of 7.1. The stock has a 4% dividend yield.

DTE Energy ( DTE - Get Report) climbed 0.6% to $42.12. The Detroit-based utility has risen 12% during the past month.

Snapshot: Third-quarter net income dropped 11% to $158 million, or 96 cents a share, as revenue decreased 16% to $2 billion. DTE Energy's gross margin expanded from 26% to 31%, and its operating margin climbed from 16% to 17%. The company has a less-than-ideal liquidity position, evident in its 0.7 quick ratio. Its 1.3 debt-to-equity ratio is close to the industry average.

Our take: We rate DTE Energy "buy." The company avoided losses during the recession and decreased its debt by 8% to $8.2 billion since the year-earlier quarter. DTE had a return on equity of 9%, beating the industry average of 8% and the 3% average of S&P 500 companies. The shares have a 5% dividend yield.

Constellation Energy ( CEG) increased 1.5% to $34. The Baltimore-based power producer has risen 8% during the past month.

Snapshot: Third-quarter net income almost tripled to $167 million, or 69 cents a share. Revenue dropped 24% to $4 billion. Constellation Energy's gross margin jumped from 7% to 17%, and its operating margin widened from 5% to 13%. Its 0.6 quick ratio reflects poor liquidity. Its 1.5 debt-to-equity ratio is higher than the industry average, indicating excessive leverage.

Our take: We rate Constellation Energy "sell." Constellation's shares are cheaper than those of peers based on trailing earnings, projected earnings, book value, sales and cash flow. However, its erratic operating results and heavy debt are causes for concern. Our model gives the company a growth score of just 2.6 out of 10, less than the "buy"-list average of 6.4.

-- Reported by Jake Lynch in Boston.