3 Utilities Stocks Driving The Sector Higher

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.

All three major indices are trading up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 114 points (0.6%) at 17,956 as of Thursday, May 7, 2015, 12:55 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,846 issues advancing vs. 1,171 declining with 124 unchanged.

The Utilities sector currently sits up 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which is up 0.6%. Top gainers within the sector include Empresa Nacional de Electricidad ( EOC), up 1.8%, Edison International ( EIX), up 1.3%, American Electric Power ( AEP), up 1.2%, Public Service Enterprise Group ( PEG), up 1.1% and Sempra Energy ( SRE), up 1.1%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras ( EBR.B), down 3.8%, and TransCanada ( TRP), down 1.4%.

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

3. Southern ( SO) is one of the companies pushing the Utilities sector higher today. As of noon trading, Southern is up $0.42 (0.9%) to $44.50 on average volume. Thus far, 2.7 million shares of Southern exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 5.5 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $44.06-$44.56 after having opened the day at $44.22 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $44.08.

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The Southern Company, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a public electric utility company. Southern has a market cap of $40.2 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 9.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there is 1 analyst who rates Southern a buy, 4 analysts rate it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Southern as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Southern Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Exelon ( EXC) is up $0.46 (1.4%) to $33.90 on average volume. Thus far, 2.9 million shares of Exelon exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 7.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $33.44-$34.02 after having opened the day at $33.49 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $33.44.

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Exelon Corporation, a utility services holding company, engages in the energy generation and delivery businesses in the United States. It owns electric generating facilities, such as nuclear, fossil, and hydroelectric generation facilities, as well as wind and solar photovoltaic facilities. Exelon has a market cap of $29.3 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 8.2% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 7 analysts who rate Exelon a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Exelon as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations, notable return on equity and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself. Get the full Exelon Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Duke Energy Corporation ( DUK) is up $0.62 (0.8%) to $77.03 on average volume. Thus far, 1.8 million shares of Duke Energy Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $76.40-$77.11 after having opened the day at $76.40 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $76.41.

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Duke Energy Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an energy company in the United States and Latin America. It operates through three segments: Regulated Utilities, International Energy, and Commercial Power. Duke Energy Corporation has a market cap of $54.0 billion and is part of the utilities industry. Shares are down 8.7% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 5 analysts who rate Duke Energy Corporation a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Duke Energy Corporation as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins, growth in earnings per share, reasonable valuation levels and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. Get the full Duke Energy Corporation Ratings Report now.

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If you are interested in one of these 3 stocks, 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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