Worst Sector in 2012: Utilities

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Utilities, consumer defensive and communication services are the worst-performing sectors so far this year, according to Morningstar.

Utilities has a total return year-to-date of 3.74%. The consumer defensive sector has a total return of 4.75% so far this year and communication services' total return is 5.37%.

Some of the worst performers in the utilities sector include: Exelon ( EXC), Constellation Energy ( CEG) and American Electric Power ( AEP).

Exelon

This stock is down 8.7% year-to-date.

Shares of Exelon reached a 52-week low on Jan. 25 of $38.57. The stock's 52-week high of $45.45 was set on Nov. 9.

Exelon has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 13.58; the average for conventional electricity companies is 20.17. For comparison, both Southern ( SO) and Dominion Resources ( D) have higher forward P/Es of 15.68 and 14.7, respectively.

Thirteen of the 20 analysts who cover Exelon rated it hold; seven analysts gave the stock a buy rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Exelon a C+ grade and hold rating.

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Constellation Energy

The energy company has a total loss this year so far of 8.6%.

Constellation Energy has a forward P/E of 13.16; the average for the conventional electricity companies is 20.27. For comparison, Consolidated Edison ( ED) has a higher forward P/E of 15.05.

Eight of the 11 analysts who cover Constellation Energy rated it hold; three analysts gave the stock a buy rating.

TheStreet Ratings gives Constellation Energy a C+ grade and hold rating.


American Electric Power

The power generation company has a total loss so far this year of 7.82%.

Shares of American Electric Power hit a 52-week high on Jan. 3 of $41.98. The stock's 52-week low of $33.09 was set on Aug. 9.

American Electric Power has a forward P/E of 11.7; the average for conventional electricity companies is 20.36. For comparison, NextEra Energy ( NEE) has a forward P/E of 12.11.

Twelve of the 22 analysts who cover American Electric Power rated it hold. Nine analysts gave the stock a buy rating and one rated it sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives American Electric Power an A- grade with a buy rating and $43.79 price target.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

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