Northeast Utilities ( NU) pushed the Utilities sector lower today making it today's featured Utilities laggard. The sector as a whole was unchanged today. By the end of trading, Northeast Utilities fell 22 cents (-0.5%) to $40.26 on light volume. Throughout the day, 1.5 million shares of Northeast Utilities exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of two million shares. The stock ranged in price between $40.05-$40.46 after having opened the day at $40.21 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $40.48. Other company's within the Utilities sector that declined today were: Consolidated Water Company ( CWCO), down 3.6%, Energy Company of Parana ( ELP), down 3.5%, U.S. Geothermal ( HTM), down 2.9%, and Ocean Power Technologies ( OPTT), down 2.8%.

Northeast Utilities, a public utility holding company, provides energy delivery services to residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Northeast Utilities has a market cap of $12.63 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 18.8, above the average utilities industry P/E ratio of 18.7 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 12.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Northeast Utilities a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and three 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 reasonable valuation levels and solid stock price performance. 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, Distribution and Marketing Company of the N ( EDN), up 11.9%, Transportadora de Gas del Sur ( TGS), up 3%, Active Power ( ACPW), up 2.4%, and EQT ( EQT), up 2%, were all gainers within the utilities sector with CenterPoint Energy ( CNP) being today's featured utilities sector leader.

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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