South Jersey Industries Stock Downgraded (SJI)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- South Jersey Industries (NYSE: SJI) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally higher debt management risk and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • SOUTH JERSEY INDUSTRIES INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, SOUTH JERSEY INDUSTRIES INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.99 versus $2.26 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.06 versus $2.99).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Gas Utilities industry. The net income increased by 70.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $6.08 million to $10.33 million.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. Despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year, there is currently no conclusive evidence that warrants the purchase or sale of this stock.
  • The gross profit margin for SOUTH JERSEY INDUSTRIES INC is rather low; currently it is at 17.00%. Regardless of SJI's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, SJI's net profit margin of 8.50% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Even though the current debt-to-equity ratio is 1.32, it is still below the industry average, suggesting that this level of debt is acceptable within the Gas Utilities industry. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.31 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.

South Jersey Industries, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the purchase, transmission, and sale of natural gas for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.2, equal to the average utilities industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. South Jersey has a market cap of $1.59 billion and is part of the utilities sector and utilities industry. Shares are down 9.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

You can view the full South Jersey Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

-- Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff

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