Back to top

Image: Bigstock

CenterPoint (CNP) Q1 Earnings: What's Ahead for the Stock?

Read MoreHide Full Article

CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (CNP - Free Report) will release first-quarter 2016 financial results before the market opens on May 10. Last quarter, the utility reported a positive earnings surprise of 8.33%. Let’s see how things are shaping up at CenterPoint Energy prior to this announcement.

Factors to Consider

CenterPoint Energy has been investing substantially to expand its operations to cope with increasing utility demand. The company is currently focused on upgrading its infrastructure and improving reliability. CenterPoint Energy has set a capital outlay of $6.2 billion for the 2016–2020 period, including an allocation of $1.4 billion for 2016.

CenterPoint Energy judiciously utilizes funds for growth projects, while maintaining a stable financial position. A favorable financial position supports CenterPoint’s practice of paying regular dividends. In Jan 2016, CenterPoint Energy's board of directors raised the quarterly cash dividend by 4% to 25.75 cents per share.

In February, the company provided its 2016 outlook. The company expects earnings in the range of $1.12 to $1.20 per diluted share. It aims to achieve earnings per share growth of 4–6% on the back of its existing businesses and investments in 2016. An investment of $363 million in Enable Midstream preferred security and expansion of the company's non-regulated Energy Services business are expected to accelerate bottom-line growth.

On the flip side, a significant portion of CenterPoint Energy’s revenue is derived from natural gas sales. Hence, its revenue stream and results of operation are subject to the impact of fluctuating weather patterns and changes in natural gas usage. We note that due to warmer-than-normal temperatures in winter, household expenditure on heating was lower, which is expected to unfavorably impact revenues in the first quarter.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that CenterPoint Energy is likely to beat earnings estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. However, that is not the case here, as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is -9.38%. This is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at 29 cents, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged higher at 32 cents.

Zacks Rank: Though CenterPoint Energy’s Zacks Rank #2 increases the predictive power of ESP, we need a positive ESP to be confident about an earnings beat.

Note that we caution against stocks with a Zacks Rank #4 or #5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

A Stock to Consider

Here is a stock in the electric utility space you may want to consider as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this season:

Pattern Energy Group Inc. (PEGI - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +233.33% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is scheduled to release first-quarter 2016 results on May 9.

Peer Releases

DTE Energy Company (DTE - Free Report) reported first-quarter 2016 operating earnings per share of $1.52, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Reported earnings, however, dropped 7.9% from the year-ago figure of $1.65.

CMS Energy Corp. (CMS - Free Report) reported first-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings per share of 59 cents, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 68 cents by 13.2%. Quarterly earnings also plunged 19.2% from the year-ago figure of 73 cents.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report >>