Northeast Utilities (NU): Today's Featured Utilities Loser

Northeast Utilities ( NU) pushed the Utilities sector lower today making it today's featured Utilities loser. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.7%. By the end of trading, Northeast Utilities fell $1.21 (-3.3%) to $35.82 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 4.7 million shares of Northeast Utilities exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.3 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $35.63-$37.38 after having opened the day at $37.04 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $37.03. Other company's within the Utilities sector that declined today were: Distribution and Marketing Company of the N ( EDN), down 9%, ITC Holdings ( ITC), down 6.5%, Niska Gas Storage Partners ( NKA), down 5.6%, and Pure Cycle Corporation ( PCYO), down 4.8%.

Northeast Utilities, a public utility holding company, provides electric and natural gas energy delivery services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts. Northeast Utilities has a market cap of $6.57 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.7, equal to the average utilities industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 2.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are nine analysts that rate Northeast Utilities a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and five rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Northeast Utilities as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance and attractive valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the positive front, Delta Natural Gas Company ( DGAS), up 5.8%, GenOn Energy ( GEN), up 3%, Consolidated Water Company ( CWCO), up 3%, and OGE Energy ( OGE), up 2.9%, were all gainers within the utilities sector with Progress Energy ( PGN) being today's featured utilities sector winner.

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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