3 Utilities Stocks Pushing Sector Growth

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Two out of the three major indices are trading lower today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 141.38 points (-0.8%) at 17,673 as of Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, 4:20 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,370 issues advancing vs. 1,694 declining with 158 unchanged.

The Utilities sector as a whole closed the day up 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which was down 0.5%. Top gainers within the Utilities sector included GreenHunter Resources ( GRH), up 15.3%, Pure Cycle ( PCYO), up 5.1%, Gas Natural ( EGAS), up 1.9%, Sky Solar Holdings ( SKYS), up 3.7% and Connecticut Water Service ( CTWS), up 1.6%.

TheStreet Ratings Group would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

Gas Natural ( EGAS) is one of the companies that pushed the Utilities sector higher today. Gas Natural was up $0.20 (1.9%) to $10.45 on average volume. Throughout the day, 31,841 shares of Gas Natural exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 28,800 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $10.20-$10.45 after having opened the day at $10.33 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $10.25.

Gas Natural Inc. is engaged in the distribution and sale of natural gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. It operates through Natural Gas Operations, Marketing and Production Operations, and Pipeline Operations segments. Gas Natural has a market cap of $107.4 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 7.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there is 1 analyst who rates Gas Natural a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

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TheStreet Ratings rates Gas Natural as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income and feeble growth in the company's earnings per share.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on EGAS go as follows:

  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 107.03% to $0.19 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, GAS NATURAL INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -41.81%.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is somewhat low, currently at 0.71, and is less than that of the industry average, implying that there has been a relatively successful effort in the management of debt levels. Even though the company has a strong debt-to-equity ratio, the quick ratio of 0.16 is very weak and demonstrates a lack of ability to pay short-term obligations.
  • EGAS, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 8.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 0.0%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • GAS NATURAL INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. We feel it is likely to report a decline in earnings in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GAS NATURAL INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.71 versus $0.48 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 4.2% in earnings ($0.68 versus $0.71).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Gas Utilities industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 47.3% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$1.01 million to -$1.48 million.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Gas Natural Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

At the close, Pure Cycle ( PCYO) was up $0.22 (5.1%) to $4.54 on light volume. Throughout the day, 23,322 shares of Pure Cycle exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 59,400 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $4.27-$4.54 after having opened the day at $4.32 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $4.32.

Pure Cycle Corporation designs, constructs, operates, and maintains water and wastewater systems in the Denver metropolitan area, the United States. Pure Cycle has a market cap of $103.1 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are up 8.0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there is 1 analyst who rates Pure Cycle a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreet Ratings rates Pure Cycle as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on PCYO go as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 8.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 44.0%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • PCYO's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.06 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.28, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • The gross profit margin for PURE CYCLE CORP is currently very high, coming in at 78.54%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Despite the strong results of the gross profit margin, PCYO's net profit margin of 1.19% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to -$0.28 million or 129.75% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • PCYO's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 31.75%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Despite the heavy decline in its share price, this stock is still more expensive (when compared to its current earnings) than most other companies in its industry.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Pure Cycle Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

GreenHunter Resources ( GRH) was another company that pushed the Utilities sector higher today. GreenHunter Resources was up $0.10 (15.3%) to $0.72 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 424,486 shares of GreenHunter Resources exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 233,700 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $0.63-$0.77 after having opened the day at $0.63 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $0.62.

GreenHunter Resources, Inc., an environmental services company, provides water management solutions in the United States. It offers Total Water Management Solutions to the oilfield, including unconventional oil and natural gas shale resource plays. GreenHunter Resources has a market cap of $21.6 million and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 13.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 3 analysts who rate GreenHunter Resources a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates GreenHunter Resources as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally high debt management risk and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on GRH go as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Energy Equipment & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 625.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$0.37 million to -$2.69 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, GREENHUNTER RESOURCES INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly decreased to $0.09 million or 60.96% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • GRH's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.97 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 0.40 is very low and demonstrates very weak liquidity.
  • GRH's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 52.80%, which is also worse than the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: GreenHunter Resources Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

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