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Is National Fuel Gas Company (NFG) Stock Outpacing Its Utilities Peers This Year?

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For those looking to find strong Utilities stocks, it is prudent to search for companies in the group that are outperforming their peers. Has National Fuel Gas (NFG - Free Report) been one of those stocks this year? Let's take a closer look at the stock's year-to-date performance to find out.

National Fuel Gas is a member of our Utilities group, which includes 108 different companies and currently sits at #4 in the Zacks Sector Rank. The Zacks Sector Rank considers 16 different groups, measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the sector to gauge the strength of each group.

The Zacks Rank is a proven system that emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions, highlighting a variety of stocks that are displaying the right characteristics to beat the market over the next one to three months. National Fuel Gas is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for NFG's full-year earnings has moved 2.9% higher within the past quarter. This signals that analyst sentiment is improving and the stock's earnings outlook is more positive.

Based on the latest available data, NFG has gained about 7.7% so far this year. In comparison, Utilities companies have returned an average of 1.1%. This means that National Fuel Gas is outperforming the sector as a whole this year.

Southern Co. (SO - Free Report) is another Utilities stock that has outperformed the sector so far this year. Since the beginning of the year, the stock has returned 12.6%.

Over the past three months, Southern Co.'s consensus EPS estimate for the current year has increased 2.1%. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Breaking things down more, National Fuel Gas is a member of the Utility - Gas Distribution industry, which includes 15 individual companies and currently sits at #58 in the Zacks Industry Rank. On average, stocks in this group have gained 13.8% this year, meaning that NFG is slightly underperforming its industry in terms of year-to-date returns.

In contrast, Southern Co. falls under the Utility - Electric Power industry. Currently, this industry has 61 stocks and is ranked #72. Since the beginning of the year, the industry has moved +2.3%.

Going forward, investors interested in Utilities stocks should continue to pay close attention to National Fuel Gas and Southern Co. as they could maintain their solid performance.

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