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FirstEnergy's (FE) Capex & Clean Energy Goals Augur Well

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FirstEnergy Corporation’s (FE - Free Report) expanding regulated base and improving transmission lines are likely to boost its earnings. Also, the company’s efforts to reduce emission levels are expected to be beneficial in the future.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings is pegged at $2.59 per share, indicating growth of 8.37% from the year-ago reported figure. Also, the consensus mark for current-year revenues stands at $11.01 billion, suggesting 2.08% growth from the prior-year reported number. In the past six months, shares of this presently Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 2.9% against the industry’s fall of 0.9%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Six Months Price Performance

Zacks Investment ResearchImage Source: Zacks Investment Research

What’s Driving the Stock?

FirstEnergy’s efforts to extend its regulated generation mix lent consistency to its long-term earnings. The utility’s transmission and distribution operations are spread across 65,000 square miles in six states and its rate structure provides stability during an economic crisis. Its investment in strengthening the transmission and distribution lines will enable it to serve its six million customers more efficiently. It expects investment worth up to $2.9 billion in reinforcing its transmission and distribution network during 2021.

Owing to an improving economy, demand from the commercial and industrial group rosein the September quarter but due to weather, demand from the residential players (who account for nearly 65% of the company’s distribution revenues) dipped. Nonetheless, significant dependence on residential customers will likely strengthen its prospects in any difficult period.

FirstEnergy is focused on lowering its emission levels and undertook initiatives to that end. In November 2020, it updated its target to become net carbon neutral by 2050. Other electric utilities like Alliant Energy Corporation (LNT - Free Report) , CMS Energy Corporation (CMS - Free Report) and Pinnacle West Capital (PNW - Free Report) are also making sustained efforts to expand their renewable portfolio alongside trimming toxic emissions.

Woes

On the flip side, FirstEnergy still possesses coal-fired generating plants that are required to comply with the federal, state and local environmental statutes, thereby elevating its costs. Thus, a likely escalation in the compliance costs may affect the company’s profitability. The risks involved in unplanned outages and an unexpected delay in completing the ongoing project remain headwinds.