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Reasons to Add South Jersey Industries (SJI) to Your Portfolio

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South Jersey Industries (SJI - Free Report) aims to strengthen infrastructure and efficiently serve customers through strategic capital investments. Its improving earnings estimates and steady dividend payouts make a strong case for investment in the utility space.

Let’s focus on the factors that make this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock a strong investment pick at the moment. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Growth Projection & Surprise History

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 and 2023 earnings per share (EPS) has moved up 4.3% and 5.9%, respectively, year over year.

South Jersey Industries delivered an average earnings surprise of 101.5% in the last four quarters.

Dividend

Currently, SJI has a dividend yield of 3.6% compared with the industry’s 3.2%. It has a long history of 71 years of dividend payment and has raised annual dividends for 22 consecutive years. South Jersey Industries targets a dividend payout ratio in the range of 55-65%.  The annual dividend for 2022 is $1.24 per share, which represents a 1.6% increase from 2021. The stable performance of the company has allowed it to distribute dividends to shareholders at regular intervals.

Investments in Infrastructure

South Jersey Industries makes consistent investments to upgrade and maintain the existing infrastructure and expand operations. These investments will increase the reliability of services and enable it to serve the increasing customer base effectively. South Jersey Industries invested $645 million in 2021 and estimates the capital expenditure plan for 2022, 2023 and 2024 to be $936.7 million, $798.3 million and $930.3 million, respectively.

Steady Customer Growth

South Jersey Industries continues to expand the customer base, which will drive the demand for its services. In 2021, SJI added more than 10,000 new customers to the customer base, with the majority of them converted from heating oil or propane. As of Mar 31, 2022, the company added nearly 9,000 new customers over the last 12 months and currently serves nearly 719,000 customers.

Price Performance

In the past six months, South Jersey Industries stock has rallied 31.8% against the industry’s decline of 22.0%.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Other Stocks to Consider

Some other similar-ranked stocks from the same sector include American Electric Power (AEP - Free Report) , Eversource Energy (ES - Free Report) and American Water Works (AWK - Free Report) .

The long-term earnings growth of American Electric Power, Eversource Energy and American Water Works is projected at 6.2%, 6.2% and 8.1%, respectively.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 EPS of American Electric Power, Eversource Energy and American Water Works has moved up 5.7%, 6.5% and 4.9%, respectively, year over year.

AEP, ES and AWK delivered an average earnings surprise of 2.4%, 0.1% and 5.3%, respectively, in the last four quarters.