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Are Utilities Stocks Lagging Atmos Energy (ATO) This Year?

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The Utilities group has plenty of great stocks, but investors should always be looking for companies that are outperforming their peers. Has Atmos Energy (ATO - Free Report) been one of those stocks this year? A quick glance at the company's year-to-date performance in comparison to the rest of the Utilities sector should help us answer this question.

Atmos Energy is a member of the Utilities sector. This group includes 103 individual stocks and currently holds a Zacks Sector Rank of #3. The Zacks Sector Rank gauges the strength of our 16 individual sector groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups.

The Zacks Rank is a successful stock-picking model that emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions. The system highlights a number of different stocks that could be poised to outperform the broader market over the next one to three months. Atmos Energy is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

Over the past 90 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for ATO's full-year earnings has moved 0.4% higher. This means that analyst sentiment is stronger and the stock's earnings outlook is improving.

According to our latest data, ATO has moved about 3.8% on a year-to-date basis. Meanwhile, the Utilities sector has returned an average of -2% on a year-to-date basis. This means that Atmos Energy is performing better than its sector in terms of year-to-date returns.

Another stock in the Utilities sector, NRG Energy (NRG - Free Report) , has outperformed the sector so far this year. The stock's year-to-date return is 7%.

Over the past three months, NRG Energy's consensus EPS estimate for the current year has increased 25.7%. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Looking more specifically, Atmos Energy belongs to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry, which includes 14 individual stocks and currently sits at #119 in the Zacks Industry Rank. This group has lost an average of 2.7% so far this year, so ATO is performing better in this area.

On the other hand, NRG Energy belongs to the Utility - Electric Power industry. This 58-stock industry is currently ranked #64. The industry has moved -3.6% year to date.

Atmos Energy and NRG Energy could continue their solid performance, so investors interested in Utilities stocks should continue to pay close attention to these stocks.

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