Laclede Group (LG) Stock Upgraded To 'Buy' At Stifel

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Laclede Group Inc. (LG) is up 0.91% to $$45.53 on Tuesday. The utility holding company was upgraded to "buy" from "hold" at Stifel Nicolaus.

The firm cited Laclede Group's recent acquisition of Alabama Gas as the reason for the ratings upgrade, as the firm feels the $1.34 billion purchase will add to earnings.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates LACLEDE GROUP INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate LACLEDE GROUP INC (LG) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, increase in net income, attractive valuation levels, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • LG's very impressive revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 16.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues leaped by 52.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • 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 39.2% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $25.57 million to $35.59 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.94, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Despite the fact that LG's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.55, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • 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. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: LG Ratings Report

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