So far, 33.3% of the S&P 500 members from the
Zacks Utilities sector have released better-than-expected Q4 earnings. Impressively, 32.1% of the utilities that have reported their fourth-quarter results have registered 3.6% earnings growth on the back of a 14.6% revenue improvement. Factors Likely to Have Influenced Q4 Performance
Factors like new electric rates, customer additions, cost management, implementation of energy-efficiency programs, ongoing investments to improve the resilience of the electric infrastructure against extreme weather conditions and their transition toward cost-effective alternate sources of fuel to produce electricity have been significantly boosting Utilities stocks. Moreover, companies have been investing in transmission and distribution lines, adding more renewable assets to their generation portfolio, and making the system more resilient to withstand inclement weather conditions and providing 24X7 services to consumers.
The continuation of near-zero interest rates has been aiding domestic-focused capital-intensive companies to get funds at low costs to carry on with infrastructure strengthening work. Such developments must have boosted the fourth-quarter performance of Utilities stocks.
Per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration release, the December contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.3 degrees F, 6.7 degrees above average, making it the warmest December on record. Such warmer-than-normal weather conditions in December 2021 might have adversely impacted Q4 demand for utility services to some extent.
Total Q4 earnings of Utility stocks are expected to drop 1.5% year over year on 10.5% higher revenues. For more details on quarterly releases, you can go through our latest
Earnings Preview. Utilities' Earnings in Focus
Let's take a look at some Utility stocks that are scheduled to report earnings on Feb 23.
Entergy Corp ( ETR Quick Quote ETR - Free Report) earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last four quarters, with the average earnings surprise being 5.25%. The company’s service territories witnessed a more or less mixed weather pattern. So, overall electricity usage by the company’s customers is expected to have been average, which must have favorably contributed to its fourth-quarter top line. Higher expenses in the company’s power generation function might have had an adverse impact on its bottom-line figure in the soon-to-be-reported quarter (read more: Entergy Set to Report Q4 Earnings: What's in Store?). Our proven model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for Entergy this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. But this is not the case here.
The company has an Earnings ESP of -1.08% and carries a Zacks Rank #2.
NiSource ( NI Quick Quote NI - Free Report) came up with a four-quarter average earnings surprise of 2.28%. NiSource’s quarterly earnings are likely to have benefited from strong residential demand. New gas rates effective in Maryland and Pennsylvania for different units during the fourth quarter are expected to have boosted the upcoming earnings (read more: NiSource to Post Q4 Earnings: What's in the Offing?)
The company has an Earnings ESP of -4.00% and carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our
Earnings ESP Filter. ONE Gas ( OGS Quick Quote OGS - Free Report) came up with a four-quarter average earnings surprise of 4.42%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings, pegged at $1.12, implies growth of 2.8% from the year-ago quarter’s reported earnings.
The company has an Earnings ESP of +0.60% and carries a Zacks Rank #3.
Essential Utilities ( WTRG Quick Quote WTRG - Free Report) came up with a four-quarter average earnings surprise of 1.45%. In the fourth quarter, Essential Utilities is likely to have benefited from strong demand from commercial customers, offset by a drop in demand from the residential group.
The company has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) (read more:
Essential to Post Q4 Earnings: What's in the Cards?) Chesapeake Utilities ( CPK Quick Quote CPK - Free Report) came up with a four-quarter average earnings surprise of 12.60%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings, pegged at $1.29, suggests growth of 4% from the year-ago quarter’s reported earnings.
The company has an Earnings ESP of 0.00% and carries a Zacks Rank #3.
Avista ( AVA Quick Quote AVA - Free Report) came up with a four-quarter average earnings surprise of 38.12%. Its fourth-quarter earnings are expected to have benefited from the new electric and gas rates implemented in its service territories.
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth-quarter earnings, pegged at 68 cents, indicates a decline of 20.9% from the year-ago quarter’s reported earnings. The company has an Earnings ESP of +3.70% and carries a Zacks Rank #3.
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Zacks Earnings Calendar.