NiSource Inc ( NI) pushed the Utilities sector higher today making it today's featured utilities winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, NiSource Inc rose 15 cents (0.7%) to $21.99 on average volume. Throughout the day, 3.5 million shares of NiSource Inc exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.8 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $21.71-$22.16 after having opened the day at $21.81 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $21.84. Other companies within the Utilities sector that increased today were: U.S. Geothermal Inc ( HTM), up 8% and National Grid ( NGG), up 1.7%.

NiSource Inc., an energy holding company, through its subsidiaries, provides natural gas, electricity, and other products and services. It operates in three segments: Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Transmission and Storage Operations, and Electric Operations. NiSource Inc has a market cap of $6.2 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.1, below the average utilities industry P/E ratio of 20.3 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 25.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

TheStreet Ratings rates NiSource as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, Evergreen Energy Inc ( EEE), down 9.3%, Transportadora de Gas del Sur ( TGS), down 7%, Centrais Ele. Brasileira S.A. Eletrobras ( EBR), down 4.7%, and Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora No ( EDN), down 4.6%, were all losers within the utilities sector with Entergy ( ETR) being today's utilities sector loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the utilities sector could consider Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) while those bearish on the utilities sector could consider ProShares UltraShort Utilities ( SDP).

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